British Museum presents: Hokusai – coming to a cinema near you this summer

Sunday 4 June 2017 will be the premiere of British Museum presents: Hokusai, a film focusing on the world-renowned Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849). Co-produced with NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), this groundbreaking film will include an exclusive private view of the forthcoming exhibition Hokusai: beyond the Great Wave, supported by Mitsubishi Corporation – the first in the UK to focus on the later years of the life and art of this great artist.

Hokusai’s most famous image, The Great Wave, is as widely known and copied as Leonardo’s Mona Lisa and, along with other works by the Japanese master, helped to shape modern art as we know it today, inspiring European artists such as Monet, Van Gogh and Picasso.

Filming Hokusai works in the Japan Study Room with Curator Tim Clark and the Great Wave.

Filming Hokusai works in the Japan Study Room with Curator Tim Clark and the Great Wave.

The documentary will spend time with Tim Clark, Curator of the British Museum exhibition, and leading scholars who have devoted themselves to the study of Hokusai’s paintings and prints. They will look at Hokusai’s prints and paintings in incredible detail using 8K ultra HD, the highest resolution and latest technology in film production.

‘Using 8K video will allow us to study the hand of Hokusai in greater detail, providing the opportunity to better understand his practice. This film will bring the exhibition to a wider audience in the UK and internationally who are not able to see it in London.’Tim Clark, Curator: Head of the Japanese Section

Born in 1760, when Japan was largely isolated from the rest of the world, Hokusai lived and worked mainly in the city of Edo (modern Tokyo). He trained in the popular ukiyo-e style – the art of the ‘floating world’, which featured courtesans, poets and actors. In his later work he focused increasingly on nature, above all on the celebrated volcano Mount Fuji. He suffered personal tragedy later in life. His wife died, he had a stroke, his grandson bankrupted him and he spent his final years living often in poverty with his daughter Oi. But he never stopped working and aiming at perfection.

Hokusai lived to 90 and in the last years produced some of his most beautiful and compelling works. He has achieved immortality through his beautiful works and his profound influence on artists, from the Impressionists to David Hockney and Georg Baselitz.

Hokusai: beyond the Great Wave is at the British Museum from 25 May to 13 August 2017.

Supported by Mitsubishi Corporation