An article on Artnet details the opening of the Sumida Hokusai Museum in Tokyo on November 22nd. The museum features the work of Katsushika Hokusai, a Japanese artist best recognized for his The Great Wave off Kanazawa. This iconic 19th Century woodblock print, from his “36 Views of Mount Fuji” series will be on display in the museum alongside changing exhibitions featuring a collection of 1,800 paintings by the artist. The museum also features a recreation of Hokusai’s Susanoo-no-Mikoto Yakujin Taiji no Zu, which had been lost in the Great Kanot Earthquake in 1923, as well as Sumidagawa Ryogan Keshiki Zukan, a 23 foot long scroll recovered from going missing for over a century when it was taken abroad.
Hokusai was a famous artist, best known for his illustrations, paintings, and prints done in the ukiyo-e genre, featuring a seemingly hedonistic urban Japanese lifestyle. It wasn’t until his 70’s when Hokusai created one of the art world’s most iconic images, nicknamed The Great Wave. The print can be seen in across the globe in museums from New York, Boston, Chicago and LA. The print’s original conception was rooted in commercialism. The “36 Views of Mount Fuji” series was intended to showcase Mount Fuji as a sacred icon of Japanese identity that had its own cult following. The prints enjoyed attention on the souvenir market, as they were easily reproducible. Japanese art historians are hesitant to call The Great Wave a definitive representation of their artistic culture because woodblock prints in that style were regarded as a form of expression and commercial printing, not fine art.
Today, The Great Wave enjoys status as a one of the most reproduced artworks in the world. It has been referenced in films, modern graphic design, video games, album artwork, and even reproduced as a sculpture. A smaller version of the work is even featured as an emoji!