The Art of Hokusai
This small selection of Hokusai's work illustrates the artist's wide range of interests and his creative skills. His experiments with perspective pictures (uki-e); his skillful draftsmanship and close observation of nature and humanity; and his use of the innovative subject matters of birds and flowers and landscape all distinguish his noteworthy contributions to the art of woodblock printing. Hokusai began his career as a pupil of the printmaker Shunsho, who specialized in actor prints. The first print in this exhibit, that of the Kabuki actor Segawa Kikunojo, shows the influence of his teacher. As he matured, Hokusai's art developed in new directions. The privatley commissinoed print (surimono) published for the Yomo poetry group is an exmaple of Hokusai's contact with the literary culture of early nineteenth-century Edo (Tokyo). He designed subtle illustrations to play upon and complement their clever verse. The artist's skills of observation are evident especially in nature studies like the fan print of a Rooster, Hen, and Chickens and in the publication of his strikingly original series of landscape prints of Mt. Fuji, which originated that genre.