Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) was a Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter, and print maker of the Edo period. He's best known for his woodblock print series Thirty Six Views of Mount Fuji, and of course, The Great Wave. I think everyone agrees he's pretty awesome. We saw this great exhibition, Japanesque, in SF. It was all about Japanese print makers in the age of Impressionism. Basically showing the fantastic work that artists were creating in Japan, which in turn inspired the Impressionists.
There were tons and tons of gorgeous prints by Hokusai, Hiroshige, and other artists, and then a whole section of prints by French artists in-the-style-of Japanese prints. One guy, for example, did his own Thirty Six Views of the Eiffel Tower. And then there were the more familiar prints by artists such as Degas, Lautrec, Cassatt, etc. The French guys (and gals) are great, but none of them capture the sublime simplicity and vibrant color of the Japanese prints. They're just gorgeous in person; you can't take your eyes off them. You want to possess them. You want to be there in that scene, watching that bird hop along a branch, admiring that mountain across the rice paddies, or walking along that lakeside in the moonlight. It's a world you want to inhabit. Views of Paris are lovely, but I'll take the Japanese countryside over industrial Europe any day.
And of course there are the erotic prints. Who doesn't love these? For all their bucking of tradition, and defying of conventions, those Frenchmen never came close to the eroticism and sheer boldness of some of these Japanese artists. I mean, check out the octopus love here! Enjoy it visually, and then let it sink in a little bit . . . awesome! Mr. G purchased a beautiful folio of Hokusai prints and a thick volume of eroticism. I purchased a Hokusai tote bag and a coloring book. That pretty much sums us up, and that's why we complement each other so well. :)