17 January – 24 March 2019
Mori Arts Center Gallery (at Roppongi Hills)
*In this article, we refer to the family name (or the equivalent) first, followed by a given name (or the equivalent).
*The article will be updated with English photo credits.
No one would ever imagine Hokusai without remembering his world-famous “Great Wave” and “Hokusai Manga”.
These works, which triggered the Japonisme craze in Europe in the 19th century, represent but a fraction of the works produced by the great master of Japanese art. But many perhaps stop short of saying “how so”.
This retrospective exhibition will take that challenge by delving into his long career stretching over 70 years. The much-awaited show will “update” an appraisal of Hokusai, along with a wide variety of works the artist produced over his life time.
Hokusai the artist
The artist later to be known as Hokusai was born in the town of Edo (the pre-modern Tokyo) in 1760. His family name was Kawamura and he was said to be called Tokitaro when young. He soon practiced painting under an ukiyo-e master Katsukawa Shunsho, and became an artist.
From his debut at age 20 until his death at age 90, Hokusai produced a wide variety of works as a painter, illustrator, ukiyo-e artist and master painter. Over his life time, he changed his pen names (or art names) some thirty times as his interests shifted (and moved even more often, from one dwelling to another). The best known “Hokusai” is one of these names, used in his middle age.
After Tokyo, Berlin and Paris: “Hokusai Updated”
The present exhibition will trace Hokusai’s extraordinary career by dividing it into six life stages, according to the pen names he adopted and the genres of art and styles he focused on. A total of some 480 exhibits, gathered from Japan and abroad, will epitomize those stages, revealing the wealth and depth of Hokusai’s world.
The exhibits will include recently discovered pieces, some of the first displays in Japan, and also those which will be shown for the “last” time in Tokyo (read further below).
This show has been prepared under the direction of Seiji Nagata, a prominent researcher, curator and collector of Hokusai, who deceased on 16 February 2018. He had directed and curated, most notably, the Hokusai exhibitions at Tokyo National Museum (2005), Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin (2011) and Grand Palais in Paris (2014), each drawing crowds of people and creating a sensation.
The present exhibition will be the culmination of Mr. Nagata’s life work on Hokusai.
Highlights of the “Hokusai Updated” exhibition 2019
◆ Recent discoveries and the first displays
Among the works exhibited for the first time in Japan is the “Sunflower”, a wonderful painting he produced at age 88, and the recently discovered “Kanadehon chushingura“, which illustrates the drama of the 47 samurai. They both will come from the Cincinnati Art Museum.
紙本1幅 弘化4年（1847） シンシナティ美術館
Cincinnati Art Museum, The Thoms Collection-Given by Mrs. Murat H. Davidson in Honor of her Grandfather, Joseph C. Thoms, 1982.15
The exhibits also include some surimono (specially made prints for limited circulation) and calendars, owned by the family of the former lord of the Tsuwano domain. A total of 118 articles, retaining the vividness of their original colours, will be presented to the public in four rotations.
◆ The last exhibition of Nagata Collection in Tokyo
Seiji Nagata (1951-2018) in his life time collected over 2,000 works of Hokusai, which, after the current exhibition, will be exhibited only in his home town, Shimane Prefecture, according to his will.
So this shall be the last occasion in Tokyo to see precious works from the Nagata Collection.
葛飾北斎《鎌倉勝景図巻》 上）七里濱 下）大佛
Six life stages of Hokusai’s art
◆ Shunro (春朗 around age 20–35): 1779-1794
At the age of 20 the artist made his debut as an ukiyo-e artist belonging to the Katsukawa School. Under the name Katsukawa Shunro he produced kabuki actor portraits and illustrated books.
細判 安永8年（1779） 島根県立美術館（永田コレクション）
絹本1幅 寛政5-6年（1793-94） 島根県立美術館（永田コレクション）
大判 天明4-5年（1784-85） 島根県立美術館（永田コレクション）
◆ Sori (宗理 around age 36–46): 1795-1805
Leaving the Katsukawa School, he now belonged to the Rimpa School, founded by the painter Tawaraya Sotatsu. He obtained a pen name Tawaraya Sori, and was deeply invested in such genres as “nikuhitsuga” (a genre of ukiyo-e painting to be completed by an ukiyo-e artist alone) and illustrated books of “kyoka”, a Japanese poetry genre in ludic, parodic, ironic style, which was in vogue during the Edo period.
大判 享和年間（1801-04） リー・ダークス・コレクション
大判 享和年間（1801-04） 米・個人蔵
◆ Katsushika Hokusai (葛飾北斎 around age 46–50): 1805-1809
Using the name Katsushika Hokusai, he worked increasingly on “yomi-hon”, a genre of illustrated novel in the Edo period. Katsushika is the old name of an area covering today’s Sumida City (Sumida-ku) in Tokyo, where he was from.
絹本額面 文化2年（1805）頃 シンシナティ美術館
Cincinnati Art Museum, The Thoms Collection- Given by Mrs. Murat H. Davidson in honor of her Grandfather, Joseph C. Thoms, 1982.4
小判 文化初-中期（1804-1813）頃 シンシナティ美術館
Cincinnati Art Museum, Annual Membership Purchase Fund, 1909.32
紙本１幅 文化10年（1813） 埼玉県立歴史と民俗の博物館
◆ Taito (戴斗 around age 51–60): 1810-1819
In 1810 he adopted Taito as his pen name. He produced, among others, a wide variety of “e-dehon”, which is a collection of sample illustrations and figure drawings, a sort of instructional book on art – the most famous one being “Hokusai Manga”.
大大判 文政元年（1818） 島根県立美術館（永田コレクション）
絵手本 半紙本 文化11年（1814） 島根県立美術館（永田コレクション）
◆ Iitsu (為一 around age 61–74): 1820-1834
At age 61 the artist changed his pen name to Iitsu. He created a number of “nishiki-e” prints*, including the famous Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji and other woodblock prints of international fame today.
*Nishiki-e is a type of ukiyo-e, a multi-coloured woodblock print produced through the division of labour by specialists – the publisher, the ukiyo-e artist (who, like him, was a painter, designer and sort of art director), the woodblock engraver and the woodblock printer.
As Iitsu, the artist covered all sorts of ukiyo-e genres, including landscapes, “scenic sites”, “flowers and birds”, ancient philosophers and sages, samurai warriors and ghosts.
大判 天保初期（1830-34）頃 島根県立美術館（新庄コレクション）
大判 天保初期（1830-34）頃 島根県立美術館（新庄コレクション）
大判 天保初期（1830-34）頃 島根県立美術館（永田コレクション）
中判 天保2-3年（1831-32）頃 山口県立萩美術館・浦上記念館
◆ Gakyo-rojin Manji or Old Crazy Artist (画狂老人卍 around age 75–90): 1835-1849
At the final stage of life, under this weird pen name (which sounds strangely contemporary in Japanese, like a sort of game player or manga character…), he produced paintings freely, covering a variety of subjects not limited to ukiyo-e, opening up his own artistic universe.
紙本1幅 弘化年間（1844－47） 西新井大師總持寺
絹本1幅 嘉永2年（1849）正月 北斎館
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