An acknowledged master during his lifetime, Hokusai created sublime works during the last thirty years of his life, right up to his death at the age of ninety. Exhibitions since the 1980s have presented his long career as a chronological sequence. This publication, which will coincide with an exhibition at the British Museum, takes a fresh approach based on innovative scholarship: thematic groupings of late works are related to the major spiritual and artistic quests of Hokusai’s life.
Hokusai’s personal beliefs are contemplated here through analyses of major brush paintings, drawings, woodblock prints, and illustrated books. The publication gives due attention to the contribution of Hokusai’s daughter Eijo (Oi), also an accomplished artist. Hokusai continually explored the mutability and minutiae of natural phenomena in his art. His late subjects and styles were based on a mastery of eclectic Japanese, Chinese, and European techniques and an encyclopedic knowledge of nature, myth, and history.
Hokusai: beyond the Great Wave draws on the finest collections of his work in Japan and around the world, making this the most important publication for years on Hokusai and a uniquely valuable overview of the artist’s late career.
Timothy Clark is Head of the Japanese Section in the Department of Asia at the British Museum.