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All About Hokusai

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• Born: 1760
• Died: May 10, 1849
• Painter, Printmaker
• Movement: Edo period
Ukiyo-e (Japan)

The Great Wave off Kanagawa, 1829-32

Hokusai is one of Japan’s most well known artists. His series, 36 Views of Mount Fuji ,became enormously
popular and iconic. One of the most famous works, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, depicts an enormous
wave overcoming fishing boats with Mt. Fuji in the background.
Hokusai’s style is Ukiyo-e, a style of painting and printmaking produced in Japan between the 17th and 20th centuries. Some popular themes of Ukiyo-e include landscapes, stories, and theater. Hokusai is believed to have said: “At the age of five years I had the habit of sketching things. At the age of fifty I had produced a large number of pictures, but for all that, none of them had any merit until the age of seventy. At seventy-three finally I learned something about the true nature of things, birds, animals, insects, fish, the grasses and the trees. So at the age of eighty years I will have made some progress, at ninety I will have penetrated the deepest significance of things, at a hundred I will make real wonders and at a hundred and ten, every point, every line, will have a life of its own.”

Many of Hokusai’s prints of the Great Wave depicts nature’s great strength. In your sketchbook,
contemplate nature and an instance in which nature was stronger that man. An example could
be a storm, flood, or lightening. Create a work of art in your sketchbook that depicts nature in its
strongest form (good or bad) and its relationship to humankind. This may be any medium.

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