Seven-Decade Career of Hokusai On View at MFA Boston
Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) was the first Japanese artist to be internationally recognized, and his art continues to inspire viewers around the world. Drawing entirely from its own collection, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), presents Hokusai from April 5 through August 9, 2015. As the home of the largest and finest collection of Japanese art outside Japan, the MFA is uniquely positioned to offer a comprehensive exhibition of this remarkable artist. Showcasing over 200 works from Hokusai’s seven-decade career, the exhibition features some of the most famous images in Japanese art, including Under the Wave Off Kanagawa (Great Wave) (about 1830–31)—from the legendary series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji—as well as the unique and brilliantly colored multi-panel screen painting, Phoenix (1835). Also featured are lesser-known pieces depicting whimsical instructions on how to draw, dynamic paintings on paper lanterns and elaborate cut-out dioramas. Spanning Hokusai’s work from his 20s through his 80s, the exhibition explores common themes through sections dedicated to topics such as landscapes, nature and the “Floating World” of urban culture (including depictions of the Kabuki theater and the Yoshiwara pleasure district). Works that depict Japanese historical and literary motifs are featured along with “perspective prints” with exaggerated vanishing points for use in toy peep shows. An extremely delicate silk square of a mythological Chinese lion, likely used as a gift wrapper (fukusa), is also included, in a rare public display of the fragile work. IMAGE: atsushika Hokusai, Under the Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa oki nami ura), also known as the Great Wave, from the series Thirty six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjûrokkei), Japanese, Edo period, about 1830–31. Woodblock print (nishiki e); ink and color on paper. William Sturgis Bigelow Collection.