Hokusai exhibit in Paris

Katsushika Hokusai
Katsushika Hokusai is arguably the most widely known and influential Japanese artist outside of Japan.

Usually referred to simply as Hokusai, the artist actually changed his name several times through his career. He was a proponent of the Ukiyo-e school of woodblock prints.

A new exhibition at the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais in Paris, co-organized with The Japan Foundation, is a major retrospective featuring some 700 pieces.

As might be expected, neither the museum or the foundation has a glimmer of a clue about using the web to generate interest in the exhibition, providing almost no images, or even mention of the titles of major works.

I’ve culled some images from an article on the Huffington Post (of all places) that are likely included in the exhibition, and supplemented it freely with images — that may or may not be included — from other sources, which are where I will send you to see more.

2014 is something of a landmark year for Hokusai, marking 200 years since the publication of the “Hokusai Manga” — books that introduced Hokusai to Europe and sparked an avid interest in Japanese art and woodblock prints among European artists, particularly the French Impressionists and artists associated with Art Nouveau.

“Manga” in this case, simply means “sketches”, as opposed to the contemporary connotation of the word in association with Japanese comics. It is being suggested within the context of the Paris exhibition, however, that Hokusai’s more fanciful narrative images of ghosts and other fantasy subjects were precursors of modern Japanese comics and animation.

There is also a traveling exhibition of Hokusai’s prints from the extensive collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, that was on view this summer at the Kobe City Museum in Japan, and will be on view in Boston in April of 2015.

Hokusai, in addition to influencing European art, was also one of the first Japanese artist to be influenced by European art (something the European artists who thought him representative of Japanese art didn’t realize at the time). He had been exposed to European artists like Rembrandt and Van Ruisdale through smuggled prints, at a time when such contact with Western culture was still forbidden in Japan.

In some pieces, you can see him playing with European linear perspective (with apparently willful disregard for aligning the vanishing point with the horizon) and still life settings of game and dishware.

Hokusai (1760-1849) at Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais is on view until 15 January, 2015, but there will be a period from 21 to 30 November in which the exhibit will be closed while some of the pieces are changed.

For more, see my links below, my previous post on Katsushika Hokusai (in which I discuss “The Great Wave” at length) and on the Ukiyo-e Search site.


6 Replies to “Hokusai exhibit in Paris”

  1. Thank you. I appreciate the thought, but, in the case of the Apple App store, at least, they seem to only be available in the French version of the App store, and, even with my limited ability to read French, the video doesn’t give the impression that they include an image gallery, just information about times, tickets, etc.

    As I said, clueless (sigh). Hokusai died in 1849. These images are not under copyright in the US or Europe.

    I see this again and again — museums unable or unwilling to grasp the visual power of the web to generate interest in their exhibitions. There are exceptions, of course, some museums that understand and use the web to advantage, even to the point of dedicated mini-sites and interactives, but they are the exception, not the rule.

  2. The exhibit was amazing! From what I can tell the exhibit was primarily pulled from the collection of the Hokusai Museum in Japan, but they also pulled from 3 other museum collections as well. They had mutiple copies of the same manga so you can see different pages. Exhibit was divided into 6 time periods so you get to experience the progression of his life and art.
    You can get the exhibition catalogue in French here:
    and here:
    for a smaller one in English:

    There’s also a Studio Ghibli exhibit on at Musee La Ludique

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