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  • Adult $16
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NGV International

Ground Level

21 Jul 17 – 15 Oct 17


Katsushika Hokusai is regarded as one of the most influential and creative minds in the history of Japanese art. His unique social observations, innovative approach to design and mastery of the brush made him famous in Edo-period Japan and globally recognised within a decade of his death.

The self-described ‘Old man mad about drawing’ was known by at least thirty names during his lifetime and was renowned for his unconventional behaviour. Despite his fame, Hokusai never attained financial success and his years of greatest artistic production were spent in poverty. He travelled and moved his resting place and studio regularly, finding inspiration for his unique style through close observations of nature and interactions with ordinary people.

In 1909 the NGV purchased five works from Hokusai’s iconic Thirty-six Views of Mt Fuji series, including his most celebrated image The great wave off Kanagawa (The great wave), 1830–34; two works from his A Tour to the Waterfalls in Various Provinces series; and four other major works. These astute acquisitions established a legacy of Japanese art in Australia that has now extended for more than one hundred years.

Hokusai features 176 works from the Japan Ukiyo-e Museum, Matsumoto, and the NGV Collection that encompass the artist’s remarkable seventy-year career. For the first time in Australia, seven of Hokusai’s major series, including Thirty-six Views of Mt Fuji, 1830–34; A Tour to the Waterfalls in Various Provinces, c. 1832; Remarkable Views of Bridges in Various Provinces, c. 1834; Eight Views of the Ryūkyū Islands; and One Hundred Ghost Stories, c. 1831, are on display, as well as selected works representing his great passion for the classical subjects of birds and flowers and historical poetry. A selection of rare prints and paintings that show the stylistic and thematic changes of Hokusai’s formative years, as well as three sets of illustrated books that highlight the artist’s masterful and compositionally innovative book illustrations, including the complete set of fifteen volumes of Hokusai Manga, compete this comprehensive insight into the life and times of this major figure.

Background image captions

The great wave off Kanagawa 1830–34
from the Thirty-six Views of Mt Fuji series
colour woodblock
25.7 x 37.7 cm (image and sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1909 (426-2)

Bunya no Asayasu (Fumiya no Asayasu) 1835–36
from the One Hundred Poems Explained by the Nurse
(Hyakunin isshu uba ga etoki) series
colour woodblock
25.9 x 37.0 cm (image and sheet)
The Japan Ukiyo-e Museum, Matsumoto

Programs & Events

Members Film Club is an opportunity for film enthusiasts and casual moviegoers alike to come together, discuss and consider art through the lens of film…

Miss Hokusai is the untold story of O-Ei, Hokusai’s daughter, a free-spirited woman overshadowed by her larger-than-life father…

Members Kids Create is a program for young Members to make art and socialise, with interactive activities to suit all ages.

Inspired by

Hokusai’s most celebrated woodblock print The great wave off Kanagawa is arguably the single most famous image in oriental art.

Speculation leads…

Auslan Tour led by artist, Luke King…

Hokusai had a diverse artistic career that spanned a remarkable seventy years.

Discover the lesser known aspects of his life and the secrets of his…

Complementing Hokusai, learn the art and history of traditional Japanese ink painting…

Using traditional Japanese ink painting techniques, work with calligraphy and ink painting led by artist Junko Azukawa.
Junko Azukawa grew up in…

For one night only, teens are taking over the Gallery. With exclusive after-hours access to The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute…