When Japanese art comes into mind these days, most people would think of artworks depicted in anime or manga comics. Unknown to many, these two art genres were highly influenced by art from the earlier Edo Period (1603–1868). Under the strict and isolationist rule of the Tokugawa shogunate, Japan experienced economic growth, political stability and social order, allowing people to enjoy arts and culture.
While there were several artists known during the Edo Period, the most celebrated of them perhaps is Katsushika Hokusai. Born in 1760 in Edo (present-day Tokyo), Hokusai started making art at a young age of 15 when he became an apprentice woodcarver. Throughout his life, Hokusai travelled through Japan, frequently changing his teachers and schools to learn different ways of making ukiyo-e, a style of woodblock prints and paintings.
During his lifetime, he changed his name 30 different times, each reflecting change in his artistic production and style, such as Gakyojin that can be translated as “crazy about painting.”
Hokusai’s greatest work is perhaps Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, a series of woodblock prints and paintings each featuring Mount Fuji. The most famous woodblock print in the series is the Great Wave off Kanagawa, which shows a rogue wave threatening boats off the coast of Kanagawa (present-day Yokohama). The painting is regarded as one of the most recognizable works of Japanese art in the world.
While Hokusai’s work was considered as “everyday graphics” in Japan, his work contributed to the rise of Japonism among European artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt, and influenced the rise of Art Nouveau style.
German porcelain manufacturer Goebel pays tribute to Hokusai by featuring his iconic Great Wave off Kanagawa in its new line of porcelain and glass products. The Great Wave decorates Goebel’s new line of vases, wall plates, framed pictures and desk clocks, all of which would make wonderful decorative pieces and add an Oriental touch to any home. These prized items also make for great holiday or wedding presents to family and friends.
Goebel is available at Rustan’s Makati, Rustan’s Shangri-La, Rustan’s Alabang Town Center and Rustan’s Cebu.