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
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
When Hokusai died many of his woodblock prints along
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
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
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
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