Hokusai Katsushika

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Hokusai Katsushika


Born 1760 in Edo (present-day Tokyo); died there Apr. 18, 1849. Japanese engraver and graphic artist. Most outstanding representative of the ukiyo-e school.

In 1777 and 1778, Hokusai studied under the engraver Shunso Katsukawa and other masters. He was also influenced by medieval Chinese landscape painting and European art. He began working as a book illustrator in 1780, eventually illustrating more than 500 books, and from 1797 to 1810 worked as a master of surimono (engraved greeting cards). In 1812 he began the series of 12 sketchbooks Hokusai Mangwa. This series, originally intended as a drawing manual, recorded with quick, graceful lines an extraordinarily rich tapestry of Japanese life and nature.

Hokusai depicted landscapes of great diversity, including the colored series The 36 Views of Mount Fuji, Picturesque Views of Famous Bridges in the Provinces (1828–33), Waterfalls of the Provinces (1828–33), and the monochromatic series The 100 Views of Mount Fuji (c. 1845). These works dramatically contrast the ceaseless, sometimes chaotic activity of man with the tranquility of nature. However, human labor is at times depicted with a special majesty not to be found in nature.

Hokusai’s work, exciting for its originality as well as for its profoundly democratic quality, had an important influence on European painting and graphic art of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


Kolomiets, A. S. Manga: Sb. risunkov Khokusaia. Moscow, 1967.
Voronova, B. G. Katsusika Khokusai. Moscow, 1975.
Connor, R. Hokusai. New York, 1962.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Naoyuki Osaka admired line drawings by Hokusai Katsushika, and found that instead of using blur to suggest movement, as much modern art has done since the advent of photography, Katsushika created motion by drawing bodies in highly unstable positions.