Katsushika Hokusai Exhibition in Paris
11 December 2014
View Over 500 Works by Hokusai at the Grand Palais in Paris Until the 18th January 2015
Despite producing decades of work that have influenced artists internationally, Katsushika Hokusai remains most famous for his iconic ukiyo-e woodblock print 'The Great Wave off Kanagawa'. Combining principles of Japanese art with western influences, it depicts a towering wave crashing down on three fishing boats and their crews, with a seemingly serene Mount Fuji featured on the horizon. It is one of the 'Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji' created by the artist currently on display at the Grand Palais, alongside over 500 more of his pieces. Regarded as the world's most famous Japanese artist, Hokusai has inspired Van Gogh and Monet amongst many others... and 60 years' worth of work is now on show in Paris, perhaps for the final time.
Hokusai and Paris
The Grand Palais' Hokusai exhibition is especially unmissable as many pieces may not venture onto western shores again when they take up permanent residence at a Tokyo Institute dedicated to the artist next year. Hokusai did not gain fame outside of his homeland until 18 years after his death, when the Paris Exposition Universelle introduced Japanese artwork and culture to the European masses in 1867. The rise in the popularity of Japanese art was referred to as Japonism and French artists were fascinated; from his sketches of the human form inspiring Degas, to Émile Gallé decorating vases with the artist's carp sketches during the Art Nouveau movement. It is therefore fitting that Paris has been given the opportunity to exhibit such an important and extensive collection of his work before it returns to Tokyo.
Co-curators Laure Dalon and Seiji Nagata had the aim of delivering a complete retrospective through books, drawings, paintings and prints, as well as introducing the public to his influence beyond the internationally famous 'The Great Wave off Kanagawa'. Hokusai studied and created many styles of art, including decorative Edo Rimpa paintings, during the 70 year period he devoted to his craft. Nature was a major source of inspiration, with landscapes, birds and flora featuring throughout, however it was his interest in daily life that made him stand out from his contemporaries. His volumes of Manga featured examples of everyday occupations in Japan, and other works took similar inspiration including 'The Moat of Ushigafuchi to Kudanzaka Kudan Ushigafuchi', which includes figures attempting to push a full cart up a hill alongside those shading themselves with umbrellas.
The Grand Palais
Much like Hokusai's legacy, the venue for the exhibition continues to inspire long after it was created. The 775,000 square foot Grand Palais was originally built for the Universal Exhibition in 1900 and has been used to showcase contemporary artwork and lifestyle exhibits to the public ever since. The 200 metre wide glass dome and Art Nouveau Staircase of the Nave continues to impress, including inspiring Prince to give two impromptu concerts in its grand surroundings in 2009 after watching a Chanel fashion show there. The Grand Palais is therefore the perfect venue to showcase such an exciting and influential collection of Hokusai's work in Paris.
Located a mere 15 minute stroll from the Grand Palais is the five-star Hotel Balzac. Once home to the celebrated French writer Honoré de Balzac, the grand surroundings provide a luxurious stay in the heart of Paris' exclusive 8th Arrondissement, close to many of the city's most prestigious landmarks. Find the hotel's current offers and take the opportunity to see many of Hokusai's greatest achievements in Paris until the 18th of January 2015.
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