Painter and Printmaker: Katsushika Hokusai
Japanese artwork might just be my favorite style of art. It is very unique and stylized, and much different from the artwork of Western culture. I’m going to take us far back to the 1700-1800’s in Edo, Japan, which is now modern day Tokyo. We will focus on one of the most well-known Japanese artists from this time period, Katsushika Hokusai, also known as Tokitaro, Shunro, Tawaraya Sori, Hokusai Tomisa, Taito, Iitsu, and Gakyo Rojin Manji… Don’t recognize any names? I bet his artwork looks familiar though!
The Great Wave off Kanagawa is probably one of the most iconic Japanese prints known to date. This artwork was created during one of the most important eras of Japan, the Edo period. It was a period of economic growth, social order, and nationwide appreciation for the arts. However, this was also a period of isolationism for Japan. It is believed that by closing off Japan’s trading ports, artwork in Japan was changed forever. Since there was very little external influence in art coming to Japan at this time, Japanese art began to take on a distinctive life of it’s own.
One of these distinctive art styles was the birth of ukiyo-e. Ukiyo-e is a type of woodblock printing that originated in Japan during the Edo period and translates to “pictures of the floating world”. The popular themes among these prints are beautiful women, kabuki actors, sumo wrestlers, historical and fanciful scenes, and landscapes. Hokusai mastered this art form and produced thousands of works of art under many different names. Each name change coincides with a different period in his life, so it’s easier to discern when an artwork was created. His main focus was landscapes and daily life of the Japanese people, but he does have other works of beautiful women, flora, fauna, and important people of the era.
Katsushika Hokusai had a profound effect on the Japanese art community as he was the forerunner of many different types of styles of art, including the modern-day manga, a style of Japanese comic books. His artworks can still be seen today at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the online gallery. Hokusai’s artwork was also part of a short video series called “Talking Objects” from the British Museum of Art, where performers bring the famous painting The Great Wave to life in an interpretive presentation. You can view all of Hokusai’s artwork online at a website dedicated to his work.
Inspired by Katsushika Hokusai
I love the idea of having this particular artwork in a bathroom. You can get really clever with the wave placement or add it as a focal wall and create your own zen space with it. But there are plenty of other prints and paintings to choose from Hokusai.
If a mural isn’t your style, you can use this nautical color palette to your advantage! There are lots of blues and neutral tones that could go in any room of your home!
You can also transform your space into a beautiful zen sanctuary with Japanese accessories. Pair these colors with a bamboo floor, such as Pergo Elegant Expressions Eastern Bamboo LF000571, and transport yourself to Japan! Here’s some more inspiration for creating a zen sanctuary.
Ok, so I am obsessed with Japanese culture and have been since I was a young girl. Every holiday and birthday, I get my Japonisme fix from my mom, who loves to entertain my love of the culture. World Market is an amazing shop for all things oriental, but they can be pricey. There are plenty of shops online as well as Amazon, which has some really good finds.
Flea markets are also a surprisingly good place to find antique Japanese items. I’ve found many antique bamboo scrolls, fans, and other nick-knacks that adorn my shelves and walls! Decorate with live bamboo plants, water fountains, and mini zen gardens. Bamboo wind chimes out on your deck or porch give you a classic sound in the summer breeze. If you’re feeling really exotic, buy some floor pillows and forego couches and chairs completely! Japanese art really has a life of its own and when you add your own personal touches to the mix, you can get something really special.