Hokusai – Réunion des Musées Nationaux - Grand Palais

Stephanie van den Hende
Nov 2, 2014 10:19PM

The exhibition will be divided into two phases to protect the most fragile works. The overall argument and design will be the same, but about a hundred works will be replaced in the course of the exhibition: the prints will be replaced by equivalent prints, often from the same series; the paintings on silk and paper will be exchanged with works of a similar nature and quality. The exhibition will be closed for ten days from 21 to 30 November 2014 while this operation is being carried out.

An emblematic artist

The series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, and especially The Big Wave, have made Katsushika Hokusai (1760 – 1849) probably the world’s most famous Japanese artist. Although his work has already been shown in numerous exhibitions, the solo show at the Grand Palais is unprecedented in its scope.

Hokusai and France

French artists and writers (Félix Bracquemond, Émile Gallé, Edmond de Goncourt and others) played a decisive role in the rediscovery of Hokusai’s art in the late 19th century; their interest in an artist who was not particularly appreciated in his native Japan at the time boosted the spread of Japanism in European art. Many artists borrowed motifs from the 15 volumes of Hokusai Manga, as numerous drawings, prints and objets d’art make abundantly clear.

Hokusai Manga

An outstanding achievement in Hokusai’s work, this collection of sketches will be given a special presentation on the occasion of the bicentenary of the publication of the first of his fifteen volumes. Designed as manuals for young artists, the mangas form a sort of encyclopaedia of life and everyday occupations in Japan in the Edo era.

Hokusai, «mad about drawing»

Going beyond the clichés and most emblematic images, the exhibitions sheds light on the life and work of this extremely prolific artist, who changed his artistic identity several times in the course of his long career. As a painter, draughtsman and engraver, Hokusai produced thousands of works whose quality is matched only by their diversity: portraits of courte- sans or Kabuki actors, scenes from everyday life, refined greeting cards, illustrations of popular myths and stories... Yet it was the publication of his great series of landscapes that had the greatest impact on the art of Japanese printmaking: he combined the principles of Japanese art and Western influences in an original way to produce strikingly beautiful landscapes.

Hokusai at the Grand Palais

The exhibition spans the six periods in Hokusai’s life, illustrated by series of prints (with outstanding loans from the collection of the musées royaux d’Art et d’Histoire), books, and many paintings, some of which are on show for the first time, and some precious preparatory drawings. A total of over 500 pieces, many of which will never leave Japan again.


Curator: Seiji Nagata, specialist in Hokusai, director of Katsushika Hokusai Museum of Art, in collaboration with Laure Dalon, assistant scientific director of the Réunion des musées nationaux – Grand Palais.
Exhibition design : DGT Dorell.Ghotmeh.Tane / Architects agency.

Katsushika Hokusai (1760 -1849), Chôshi in the province of Sōshū (detail), Serie 1000 images of the sea, print, 18,2 x 19 cm, Paris, Musée national des arts asiatiques - musée Guimet © Rmn-Grand Palais (musée Guimet, Paris) / Thierry Olivier

Stephanie van den Hende