Hokusai: A Graphic Biography chronicles the life and times of Katsushika Hokusai in an accessible and informative original graphic novel.

One of the most influential, imitated and referenced artists in all of Japanese history is Katsushika Hokusai, known simply as Hokusai. The mind behind iconic works such as “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” and the “Great Daruma”, Hokusai’s life and times are explored in the original graphic novel. Hokusai: A Graphic Biography by Giuseppe Latanza and Francesco Matteuzzi. Laurence King Publishing has published an English edition of the biography, translated by Edward Fortes after it was first published in Italian, which offers an accessible and informative look at the man who shaped the way the world sees Japan through through the prism of classical art. .

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Hokusai’s birth and his growing prominence in the 18th century Japanese art scene came at a time when the capital city of Edo, which would later become Tokyo, began to experience an influx of national visitors from other parts of Japan. fueled by a national obsession for Mt. Fuji. As the capital grew steadily, Hokusai captured various elements of Japanese culture and the beauty of geography through paintings, woodcuts, and an educational manga series that helped showcase feudal Japan to the masses and encapsulate one of the most romantic periods in the nation’s history. . And more than staying within a single art form and genre, Hokusai would expand his work to a satire of contemporary culture, instruction manuals, and more before his artwork expanded beyond the borders of Japan in the 19th century. XIX to help the outside world see Japan through their eyes. .

The writer Francesco Matteuzzi presents this graphic novel as a textbook; There are many narrative-based pages, but these are interspersed with text-only pages to help set the scene and underline the historical significance of what is shown. There is a sense of detachment that Matteuzzi maintains throughout the biography, assuming a more omniscient perspective as he chronicles the last decades of feudal Japan throughout Hokusai’s life before showing his impact on both the country and the rest of the world. world when Japan is forced to. to open up its borders and Hokusai’s work reaches out to an audience he could never have imagined.

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Latanza works with a duller, earthier color palette as he brings to the page the trials and tribulations of Hokusai’s life. The story behind Hokusai’s most iconic work, including his Thirty-six views of Mount Fuji series of woodcuts are on full display here, with Latanza recreating the artwork to perfection. This is a story filled with stoic characters, in keeping with the cultural expectations of feudal Japan at the time, but Latanza still manages to deliver the subtle nuances of emotion and tragedy that Hokusai faced during his long life. The most impressive artwork comes towards the end of the graphic novel when Latanza shows how Japan and Tokyo evolve, bringing the full scope of the story.

Most people know of Hokusai’s work without really knowing who Katsushika Hokusai is, and Matteuzzi and Latanza help shed light on one of the most influential figures to ever come out of Japan. Hokusai: A Graphic Biography It is not a groundbreaking biography, but it is an informative, well-researched, and elaborate look at your subject. Superbly presented in a hardcover edition, this original graphic novel is accessible reading for those unfamiliar with Hokusai and the world of feudal Japan, while documenting the vast breadth of the artist’s work that captured the end of one of the periods. most romantic in Japan.

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