Hokusai

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Hokusai

Hokusai (Katsushika Hokusai) (kätsŏŏshē´hōksī´), 1760–1849, Japanese painter, draftsman, and wood engraver, one of the foremost ukiyo-e print designers. After producing wood engravings for several years, he became a pupil of the celebrated artisan Shunsho, adopting the name Shunro. In the 1790s he illustrated books and printed cards for greetings and announcements. About 1797 he took the name Hokusai. In all he used over 50 different names. His output was prodigious and his fame widespread, but to the end of his life he lived in poverty and retained his simplicity.

Hokusai was distinguished for the variety of his styles, his extraordinary technical excellence, and his observant delineation of contemporary life. His landscapes reveal a startling imagination and a dramatic sense of composition. Of his astounding output some of the best-known works are the famous Manga, or Ten Thousand Sketches, in 15 volumes (1814–78); the color-print series Views of Famous Bridges and Views of Lu-chu Islands; and Views of Mount Fuji. Hokusai's work has had a marked influence on the art of the West.

See his Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji (1966); studies by T. Bowie (1979), M. Forrer (1988), and G. C. Calza (2003).

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