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Hokusai: Paintings and Deluxe Prints for Special Clients

November 15, 2012
Price Auditorium
Free with museum admission

John T. Carpenter, curator of Japanese art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Hokusai, perhaps the most famous of all Japanese artists, is associated with iconic woodblock print designs such as the Great Wave or Red Fuji. While the artist’s accomplishments in painting and privately commissioned prints called surimono are today somewhat overshadowed by his more accessible work in commercial landscape prints and illustrated books, it is important to remember that Hokusai originally established his artistic identity and patronage base through surimono commissions. Almost all of Hokusai’s surimono were created at the behest of poetry groups dedicated to the composition of kyōka, a 31-syllable poetic form, resembling traditional waka (court verse), but often dealing with contemporary topics and using humorous wit or elaborate wordplay. This presentation will trace the outlines of the Hokusai’s brilliant artistic output at each stage of his career, focusing on rare surviving examples of paintings, illustrated poetry books, and surimono from American collections. 

Presented as part of the Trapp Japanese Art Lecture Series

Affiliate Group: 

Katsushika Hokusai. Cage of Fireflies at Dawn in Summer, ca. 1800. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Howard Mansfield Collection, Purchase, Rogers Fund, 1936, JP2577.