Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave

Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave

Last weekend I went to the British Museum's special exhibition Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave, to see a large selection of work by, arguably, Japan's greatest and most influential artist.  Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) produced an incredibly varied body of work up until his death aged 90, creating prints, paintings, drawings, silk hanging scrolls and illustrated books featuring dramatic landscapes, beautifully-detailed birds and flowers, dragons and mythological creatures, domestic scenes, and imagined maps.

Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave, British Museum - UK culture blog

The prolific artist (one of the many names he gave himself was 'Gakyō rōjin', meaning 'Old Man Crazy to Paint') created his best work in his 70s, including the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji series which features his most famous image, The Great Wave.  Printed in traditional indigo and newly-imported Prussian blue pigment, the woodblock print depicts the stormy sea threatening three fishing boats off the coast of Kanagawa (the present-day city of Yokohama) with storm clouds and the sacred, snowcapped Mount Fuji in the background.  Seeing an original of one of the most famous artworks ever produced is a highlight, but there are plenty of others too: the exhibition brings together 110 works from all over the world, many of which have never been seen in the UK before, and you've only got a couple of weeks left to see it.

Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave runs 25 May - 13 August 2017