Hokusai: the blue, foam-crested wave rearing above Mount Fuji; the celebrated volcano idealized and reinventedby the artist in every nuance of view, season and painting; extraordinary bridges, the waterfalls of Japan, the contortions, costumes, gestures - the very breath of men, women, peasants, townsmen, warriors, artisans, leaping horses, birds, insects, fish, almost live on the ground on which they are painted - the countless imaginative drawings or the lively sketches done on the spot for the Manga, Hokusai's record of shapes and forms drawn from life or imagined over time. With a body of work comprising more than 30,000 drawings and paintings, Hokusai (1760-1849) was the most prolific, varied and indisputably the most creative artist of old Japan. A universal genius in everything that constituted drawing and painting in his time, he practised all genres of ukiyo-e, those `images of the floating world', as his contemporaries liked to describe their pleasures and their daily life.
This book traces the career of this child from a working-class district of old Tokyo, then known as Edo, evoking the special atmosphere of this great city and of Japanese life, when Japan - closed to foreigners - developed in a vacuum a powerfully original culture. Hokusai became one of the great masters of the woodcut, this `brush gone wild', as he called himself, being rediscovered by the Impressionists and aesthetes at the end of the 19th century. He remains one of the greatest and - thanks to his personality - one of the most attractive figures of world art.