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THE ARTIST – HOKUSAI

Katsushika Hokusai was born in today’s Tokyo in 1760, a time when the name was Edo.  Although his father made a living making mirrors, Hokusai took interest around the age of 18 in wood engraving.  Wanting to further his commitment to woodblock prints, he entered Katsukawa Shunsho school, which was run by a man of the same name who was a magnificent painter and color print designer.  What made Katsukawa so unique is his ability to push past traditions.  Katsukawa’s focus was so intense that from 1796 go 1802, he produced upwards of 30,000 color prints and book illustrations. 

Studying hard, Hokusai became quite skilled, producing the majority of his woodblock prints, landscape paintings, and silk screens from 1830 to 1840.  Keep in mind that Hokusai was very diverse, studying a number of different styles.  Unfortunately, this artist was very poor at one time but as a pupil interested in learning, he created beautiful woodblock prints.  The fascinating aspect of this man was that while he went on to make a decent living, when he died in 1849, he made a statement from his bed that “If Heaven had lent me but five years more, I would have become a great painter”.  In other words, this man was humble but incredibly talented. 

When Hokusai died many of his woodblock prints along with other artists made their way to the western masters to include Vincent van Gogh.  Because of this, his work is actually loved more in the western world than it is in his own country of Japan.  While Hokusai created some amazing woodblock prints, one of his most famous is called “In the Hollow of a Wave off the Coast at Kanagawa”.  This painting depicts a massive wave coming down on men in their boats.  The backdrop of this beautiful painting is the famous Mount Fuji. 

We know that Hokusai ended up authoring a 13-volume sketchbook along with block prints known as “Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji”, one of which included the above-mentioned painting.  Without doubt, his Ukiyo-e figures are considered among the best.  However, Hokusai became famous for another genre – exotic prints done in the Shunga style.  The interesting thing is that a number of his exotic paintings became marquees or advertisement for both theaters and brothels. 

Another magnificent set of woodblock prints created by Hokusai is known as “Fukujuso”, which consists of 12 prints that honor and celebration passion and flesh.  Although he stretched his imagination further than most, he was the inspiration for future artists wanting to push the envelope.  What most people do not realize is that the famous “Whistler’s” painting was influenced by Hokusai’s work.


Read more about Japanese Woodblock Prints:
  Japanese Woodblock Prints   Ukiyo-e   Toyokuni Utagawa   Eisen Kikugawa   Hiroshige Ando   Utamaro Kitigawa

 

Visit our online store for dozens of Japanese Woodblock Prints

Click here to see our current selection.
 
The Great Wave by Hokusai
The Great Wave by Hokusai
Code:fw1002
Price:$27.95
Kabuki by Utagawa
Kabuki by Utagawa
Code:fw1121
Price:$27.95
3 Beauties by Utamaro
3 Beauties by Utamaro
Code:fw1118
Price:$27.95
General in Battle by Utagawa
General in Battle by Utagawa
Code:fw1120
Price:$27.95
Mt Fuji by Hiroshige
Mt Fuji by Hiroshige
Code:fw1010
Price:$27.95
 

 


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