Artist in Focus - Katsushika Hokusai
Katsushika Hokusai was born in Edo (now Tokyo) in 1760 and died in 1849. He was a Japanese artist and printmaker of the Edo Period and is considered to be one of the outstanding figures of the Ukiyo-e, or "pictures of the floating world" (everyday life), school of printmaking.
Hokusai was prolific and produced over 30,000 prints, which were inspired by the traditions, legends, and lives of the Japanese people. His best-known work is his woodblock print series "Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji", which includes the internationally recognised print, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, created during the 1820s. Hokusai created the series both as a response to a domestic travel boom and as part of a personal obsession with Mount Fuji. Hokusai’s earlier works are considered an important part of the artist’s oeuvre but it was not until he created this series, specifically the prints The Great Wave and Fuji in Clear Weather, that he gained wide recognition and left a lasting impact on the art world.
Although well-known in Japan, Hokusai’s art has generally been more appreciated in the West than in his home country. His prints were imported to Paris in the mid-19th century and they were enthusiastically collected by some of the leading impressionist artists such as Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. Hokusai’s work profoundly influenced them.