Katsushika Hokusai was a phenomenal artist and printmaker who paved the way for Japanese art to be recognised on an international level. Best known for his woodblock print series ‘Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji’, it includes Hokusai’s most famous work ‘The Great Wave’, a piece which has become as recognisable as Da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’ or ‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch. It is easily the most recognisable piece of art from the Edo period and is the centerpiece for the National Gallery of Victoria’s Hokusai exhibition which will run until October and feature over 170 works.

Hokusai’s legendary series originated in Japan, inspired by a domestic travel boom at the time and Hokusai’s own personal obsession with the iconic Mount Fuji. It was a time in Japanese history where despite strict social order and isolationist foreign policies, a popular enjoyment of arts and culture prevailed.

The Hokusai Exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. Image: Supplied

“One hundred years ago The Great Wave came to the National Gallery of Victoria and it’s been one of the most popular artworks in the collection ever since,” says curator Wayne Crothers.

Exhibition Curator Wayne Crothers. Image: Supplied

The waves curling up on one side and the sky closing in from the other symbolise a yin and yang format which represents heaven and Earth, with humans in between and the iconic Mount Fuji present on the horizon. The design was prodigious for its time and cemented Hokusai as an expert in his field.

For National Gallery of Victoria Conservator, Ruth Shervington “The Great Wave’ is a perfect example of the use of Prussian Blue in the era. You see different intensities in the strokes. It’s exciting to have it in front of you. This is an extraordinary artwork.”

The exhibition brings together two very early impressions of ‘The Great Wave’ for the first time since they were created over 180 years ago, allowing the public to compare and contrast.

The exhibition will feature over 170 of Hokusai’s artworks. Image: Supplied

“We were really blown away by how beautiful the prints were and the exquisite condition they were in,” says Shervington.

This exhibition gives the Australian public a chance to appreciate Hokusai’s genius well beyond ‘The Great Wave’. It includes his eccentric personality and his entire magnificent series which is a wonderful introduction to the art and culture of the Edo period.

It’s likely there will not be an exhibition of this scale in Australia for a very long time, so don’t miss out on this opportunity. 

Tickets are $16.00 for adults or $41.00 for a family pass.
For more info or to purchase tickets, click here.

National Gallery of Victoria
03 8620 2222
180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne


Hokusai will run until October 15 2017.