Opening - Katsushika Hokusai's Mount Fuji prints @ National Art Museum of Romania

The National Art Museum of Romania will open Thursday a special exhibition of Katsushika Hokusai's Mount Fuji prints entitled “Pilgrimage to Mount Fuji: Katsushika Hokusai engravings.”
Hokusai (1760 –1849) was a Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter and printmaker of the Edo period. In his time, he was Japan's leading expert on Chinese painting. Born in Edo (now Tokyo), Hokusai is best-known as author of the woodblock print series "Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji" which includes the internationally recognized print, "The Great Wave off Kanagawa", created during the 1820s. Hokusai was known by at least 30 names during his lifetime. Although the use of multiple names was a common practice of Japanese artists of the time, the numbers of names he used far exceeds that of any other major Japanese artist. At the age of 12, he was sent by his father to work in a bookshop and lending library, a popular type of institution in Japanese cities, where reading books made from wood-cut blocks was a popular entertainment of the middle and upper classes. At 14, he became an apprentice to a wood-carver, where he worked until the age of 18, whereupon he was accepted into the studio of Katsukawa Shunsho.

Shunsho was an artist of ukiyo-e, a style of wood block prints and paintings that Hokusai would master, and head of the so-called Katsukawa school. Ukiyo-e, as practiced by artists like Shunsho, focused on images of the courtesans and Kabuki actors who were popular in Japan's cities at the time. After a year, Hokusai's name changed
for the first time, when he was dubbed Shunro by his master. It was under this name that he published his first prints, a series of pictures of Kabuki actorspublished in 1779.

Upon the death of Shunsho in 1793, Hokusai began exploring other styles of art, including European styles he was exposed to through French and Dutch copperengravings he was able to acquire. He was soon expelled from the Katsukawa school by Shunko, the chief disciple of Shunsho, possibly due to studies at the rival Kan school. This event was, in his own words, inspirational. Hokusai also changed the subjects of his works, moving away from the images of courtesans and actors that were the traditional subjects of ukiyo-e. Instead, his work became focused on landscapes and images of the daily life of Japanese people from a variety of social levels. This change of subject was a breakthrough in ukiyo-e and in Hokusai's career
During the 1820s Hokusai reached the peak of his career. His most famous work, Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, including the famous Great Wave off Kanagawa, dated from this period. It proved so popular that Hokusai later added ten more prints to the series. Hokusai created the "Thirty-Six Views" both as a response to a domestic travel boom and as part of a personal obsession with Mount Fuji. It was this series that secured Hokusai’s fame both within Japan and overseas.