Katushika Hokusai

Katsushika Hokusai

Katsushika Hokusai, also recognized by his pen names Shunr, Sri, Kak, Taito, Gakyjin, Iitsu, and Manji, was a Japanese master engraver and artist of the ukiyo-e ("pictures of the floating world") school. He was born in Edo, Japan, in October 1760 and passed away in Edo on May 10, 1849. His previous works include the entire breadth of ukiyo-e art, comprising hand paints, only one print of landscapes and actors, and surimono ("printed objects"), such as invitations and pleasantries. Later, he focussed on the samurai and Chinese elements that were conventional themes. From 1826 to 1833, he created the acclaimed print series "Thirty-six Scenes of Mount Fuji," which ranks as the apex of Japanese landscape painting. Among the very well Japanese artists, he is notorious for utilizing the biggest identities and is still the most well-known. It's reported that he produced more than 30,000 different works of art. Up until he died, he kept painting. He has impacted and stimulated painters and art lovers worldwide with his creations.

Early years

Hokusai was born in the Honjo area, situated just east of Edo (Tokyo), and began drawing when he was five. His adoption as a kid by the aristocratic Nakajima family of craftsmen led to the assumption that, despite being the real son of Nakajima, he had truly been born of a courtesan. However, he was never acknowledged as an heir.

According to legend, Hokusai worked as an employee at a local library when he was young. From 15 to 18, he was on an apprenticeship as a woodblock engraver. Hokusai's aesthetic growth as a printmaker was certainly influenced by his early training in the book and publishing businesses.

The oldest surviving occurrence of Hokusai is from 1778, when, at 18, he joined Katsukawa Shunsh's classes to learn the skill of ukiyo-e. The young Hokusai's first publications prints from the kabuki theatre, a genre that Shunsh and the Katsukawa school ruled the next year.

Hokusai must have married in his mid-20s based on the ages of his several offspring. From this spot on, his models shifted away from drawings of actors and women and toward historical and landscape concepts, notably uki-e (semi-historical landscapes using Foreign point of view techniques) and prints of kids. This switch may have been influenced by family life. The content and drawings in the artist's works also strayed away from the older topics and toward pedagogical and historical concerns. At the same period, one of the earliest peaks in Hokusai's career can be observed in the surimono artworks he created in the next decade. Surimonos were collector's edition paintings with faultless printing produced privately for special occasions, such as New Year's and other greetings, artistic performances and announcements, and personal verse selections.

Hokusai had a great emotional transformation in his early 30s. Early in 1793, Hokusai's mentor Shunsh departed tragically, leaving a son and two daughters behind. A short while after, Hokusai's young wife also went regrettably. He got wedded in 1797 and took the name, Hokusai. The glory days of his art, which was to last for a half-century, started with this designation.

After years

Hokusai's work from this time spans the entire scope of ukiyo-e art, spanning only one picture, surimono, picture books, picture novelettes, drawings for historical novels and verse anthologies, sexual books and record prints, and hand paintings and sketches. Only infrequently (in a few significant prints, paintings, and erotica) did Hokusai may choose to contend with Utamaro, the well-known master of sensual figure prints, in his selected subject matter. Apart from this constraint, Hokusai's artwork covered a wide variety, concentrating on historical and geographical vistas, with figures sometimes serving as a subsidiary subject. He initially dabbled with a Western point of view and coloring at the turn of the century.

In the 1800s, Hokusai started making yomihon paintings (the extended historical novels coming into fashion). During 1806 and 1807, under their influence, his style began to go through substantial and obvious alterations. His figure work gets stronger but much less delicate; there is more focus on old or traditional themes (particularly samurai, warriors, and Chinese topics), and there is a turn away from the modern Ukiyo-e world.

The death of Hokusai's eldest child occurs about 1812. As the accepted heir to the wealthy Nakajima family, the son had been responsible for getting Hokusai a generous stipend so that he did not worry about the uncertainties of revenue from his paintings, designs, and illustrations, which at this moment were more frequently paid for with "gifts" than with set fees. As a result, this tragic incident was not only an emotional situation but also an economic one.

Whether for monetary reasons or not, Hokusai's focus eventually shifted from novel illustrations to image books and, specifically, to the sort of wood-block-printed notebook intended for novice painters from this point on (including the famous Hokusai manga). He presumably intended to attract new students and additional funding, and to some extent, he was successful in his goal.

Hokusai was known for his intricate drawings and illustrations, but he also loved showing off his artistic vision in front of massive gatherings. In both Nagoya and Edo, he generated vast paintings of historical figures that were up to 200 square meters (approximately 2,000 square feet) in scale. He was once requested to appear before the shogun to display his artistic abilities (the military leader who, although theoretically subordinate to the emperor, was, in fact, the ruler of Japan).

The second wife of Hokusai passed away in the spring of 1828. The teacher, who was 68 at the time and sometimes disabled, was left alone, presumably with just a prodigal grandchild who had proven to be an unforgivable crime. Thus, it is likely no accident that quickly after, O-ei, Hokusai's favorite daughter (and student), left her unhappy relationship with a lower artist named Tmei and went right back to her father's side, where she would remain for his entire life.

Hokusai was a highly motivated artist who got up early and sketched till midnight. His long, successful career had a rhythm like this. Thirty-six Pictures of Mt. Fuji, one of Hokusai's numerous books and prints, is particularly noteworthy (see photograph). This renowned series, which was published both roughly 1826 and 1833 and included nutrition, totaled 46 color prints; in terms of exaggeration of idea and skill of implementation, there was very little to rival it before and absolutely nothing to top it later—even in the work of Hokusai's highly regarded late contemporary Hiroshige (q.v.).

Hokusai's repeated moves (he lived in more than 90 various spots) and use of his name are signs of the architect's instability. The artist had over two dozen more irregular pseudonyms in conjunction with his primary norms d'artiste (about one each decade), albeit these were typically used in conjunction with his prime name for that specific period.

The "old man crazed with paintings," as he called himself, passed away on the 18th day of the 4th quarter of the Japanese calendar, rejecting his prayers to heaven for "now another century, even another 5 years." He was 89 years old but, as he had stated 15 years prior, was still passionately searching for the ultimate reality in art.


Throughout his long life, Hokusai represented the spirit of the Ukiyo-e school of art over the last century of its maturation. His tenacious brilliance also serves as a role model for the single-minded artist who strives only to finish a certain goal due to his 70 years of continuous artistic production. In contrast, Hokusai represents an individual who, since the second 19th century, has most probably impressed Western artists, critics, and visual artists more than any other solitary Asian artist.

His admirers included many European artists. Others did works in his memory while others gathered his efforts. These are just a few examples of Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and August Macke.

He affected many art styles, including the Artistic movement in artwork and the Art Nouveau style in architecture.

Science-fiction writer Roger Zelazny earned the Hugo Prize for his short novel, "24 Views of Mt. Fuji by Hokusai."

Some of his bios include "The Works of Hokusai," "Hokusai and His School: Paintings, Sketches, and Illustrated Books," and "Hokusai: Works of art, Drawings, and Woodcuts."

Random fact

On November 23, 2017, a portrait of the same size was created utilizing the same methods and materials as part of the anniversary celebrations for the artwork "Great Daruma.

After first being published, 'Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji' now includes 10 additional artworks, bringing its total to 46.

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