Katsushika HOKUSAI (1760 – 1849)
Katsushika Hokusai (1760 – 1849) is famous as the author of the woodblock print series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku Sanjūroku-kei) which includes the iconic print The Great Wave off Kanagawa and Fine Wind, Clear Morning. These works settled Hokusai’s fame not only in Japan but also overseas. Hokusai also worked on several detailed individual images of flowers and birds (kacho-e), erotic art (Shunga) and so-called Ehon Handbooks.
Landscape as a new genre
Hokusai added a new genre to the Japanese woodblock print. He started to focus on landscapes and images of the everyday life of Japanese people from a variety of social levels. Hokusai’s most famous landscape series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, including the famous Great Wave off Kanagawa, was created between 1826 and 1833. Other popular series of prints are A Tour of the Waterfalls of the Provinces, Oceans of Wisdom and Unusual Views of Celebrated Bridges in the Provinces.
In 1811, at the age of 51, Hokusai created the Hokusai Manga, which are art handbooks (e-hon). Manga (meaning random drawings) included studies in perspective and movement. The first book of Hokusai's manga was published in 1814 and it was very popular. Therefore, 12 volumes of manga got published before 1820 and three more got published after his death. Throughout his whole life Hokusai made thousands of studies of animals, everyday people and religious figures. They often have humorous overtones and sometimes even seem like caricatures.
Hokusai's influence on European artist
The Convention of Kanagawa in 1854 put an end to the isolation policy in Japan and Japonism became a new interest in the Western world. By that time, Hokusai’s works of art left a deep impression on Western artists. European impressionists studied closely Hokusai's compositions. Also Art Nouveau and Jugendstil refer to Japanese woodblock prints.