Pictured above is the famous image Under the Wave off Kanagawa, a woodblock print carved by Katsushika Hokusai circa 1832 (Naito). Nearly two hundred years after its creation, this artwork continues to surge with relevance as a pop cultural icon of traditional Japanese art. Yet Hokusai’s masterful prints were by no means created in a vacuum; he worked in an artistic tradition hundreds of years old, and his work reflects the rich history of technical and thematic innovations inherent to the ukiyo-e style.
The Japanese art form of ukiyo-e, often translated to mean “pictures of the floating world,” is a rich tradition of visual storytelling renowned for its bold designs, lavish paintings, and meticulously carved woodblock prints (Naitō). At the height of its popularity, the studios of ukiyo-e masters Andō Hiroshige and Katsushika Hokusai created images of enduring popularity that brought Japanese art to a global audience, forging a legacy that remains hugely influential to many modern Japanese artists (Naitō). For my final project, I will research the history and growth of ukiyo-e within Japan and the evolving tradition of ukiyo-e as practiced by Japanese artists in the twentieth century through today.
In this blog I will document my research, provide visual examples of relevant artwork, and record my personal synthesis of what I learn about the history and legacy of ukiyo-e.
Naito, Masato. “Katsushika Hokusai”. Oxford Art Online, 2003, https://doi-org.ezproxy.library.tamu.edu/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.T046003