1760 - 1849 · Japan
Katsushika Hokusai was a Japanese artist of the Edo-period - the period of cultural and economical splendor from 1603 to 1868. His work is emblematic of Japanese art, especially his iconic piece ‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa’ (1831) which formed part of his print series ‘Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji’ (1889-1892).
Born where we know today as Tokyo, Hokusai was born to an artisan family. At the age of 12 he started to work at a library where he became inspired by the practice of woodblock print. He joined the studio of Japanese artist Katsukawa Shunshō at the age of 14, where he learned the technique he mastered later on in life.
He was associated with Tawaraya School where he produced many brush paintings, called ‘surimono’, a genre of Japanese woodblock print. He decided to become an independent artist when he gave his artistic name to a student, cutting for the first time all ties to any artistic school.
He received great fame due his masterful artworks and flair for self-promotion. He produced many artworks for illustrated books, an industry he was particularly interested in. The artist had some disagreements with both novelists and publishers regarding the art style of the illustrations included in the books. In 1811, in an attempt to modernize his art, Hokusai began creating the Hokusai Manga collection, which featured quick drawings of animals, religious figures, and everyday people.
In his late creative period the Japanese artist created the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji collection, where he included his widely acclaimed piece, The Great Wave off Kanagawa. The artwork details a big wave threatening three boats, with Mount Fuji represented in the background.