BOSTON —Thanks to the popularity of the instantly recognizable Great Wave—cited everywhere from book covers and Lego sets to anime and emoji—Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) has become one of the most famous and influential artists in the world. Organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), Hokusai: Inspiration and Influence takes a new approach to the work of the endlessly inventive and versatile master, pairing more than 100 of his woodblock prints, paintings and illustrated books from the MFA’s renowned collection with more than 200 works by his teachers, students, rivals and admirers. These unique juxtapositions demonstrate Hokusai’s impact through the centuries and around the globe—seen in works by, among others, his daughter Katsushika Ōi, his contemporaries Utagawa Hiroshige and Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 19th-century American and European painters, and modern and contemporary artists including Loïs Mailou Jones, John Cederquist, Roy Lichtenstein and Yoshitomo Nara. Following the exhibition’s debut in Boston, Hokusai: Inspiration and Influence will travel to the Seattle Art Museum, where it will be presented from October 19, 2023 through January 21, 2024.

“Hokusai: Inspiration and Influence” is sponsored by UNIQLO USA. Generously supported by the MFA Associates / MFA Senior Associates. Additional support from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Exhibition Fund, the Museum Council Artist in Residency Program Fund, the Dr. Terry Satsuki Milhaupt Fund for Japanese Textiles, the MFA Associates / MFA Senior Associates Exhibition Endowment Fund, the Patricia B. Jacoby Exhibition Fund, and the Alexander M. Levine and Dr. Rosemarie D. Bria-Levine Exhibition Fund.

The MFA is home to one of the largest and most significant collections of Hokusai’s works in the world, making us uniquely positioned to tell the story of his enduring appeal and his impact on other artists,” said Sarah E. Thompson, Curator of Japanese Art. “We hope visitors enjoy this new look at the legacy of the ever-popular painter, book illustrator and print designer.”

Hokusai: Inspiration and Influence is organized thematically, with sections focused on Hokusai’s teachers and students, surimono (privately commissioned prints), the origins of Japonisme, landscapes, nature studies and depictions of heroes and monsters. The largest section, located at the center of the exhibition, is dedicated to Under the Wave off Kanagawa (The Great Wave) (1830–31). The print is presented alongside works that riff on or directly cite Hokusai’s iconic image, from John Cederquist’s How to Wrap Five Waves (1994–95) and Roy Lichtenstein’s Drowning Girl (1963, Museum of Modern Art, New York) to Andy Warhol’s The Great Wave (After Hokusai) (1980–87, The Andy Warhol Museum) and a Lego recreation (2021) by Lego certified professional Jumpei Mitsui.


Katsushika Hokusai, Under the Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa-oki nami-ura), also known as the Great Wave, from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjūrokkei) (detail), about 1830–31. Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper. William Sturgis Bigelow Collection.


John Cederquist, How to Wrap Five Waves, 1994–95. Baltic birch, plywood, poplar, maple, Sitka spruce, pine, epoxy, resin inlay, oil-based lithography inks, metal hardware. The Daphne Farago Collection. Reproduced with permission.


Roy Lichtenstein, Drowning Girl, 1963. Oil and acrylic on canvas. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Philip Johnson Fund (by exchange) and gift of Mr. and Mrs. Bagley Wright, 1971. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY.

Additional artwork highlights include:

- Hokusai’s famous Fine Wind, Clear Weather (also known as Red Fuji) (about 1830–31), shown alongside the surimono print Mount Fuji (Edo period, 1820s) by Totoya Hokkei, his most successful student, and Yoshitomo Nara’s humorous parody White Fujiyama Ski Gelände from the series In the Floating World (1999, courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery)


Katsushika Hokusai, Fine Wind, Clear Weather (Gaifū kaisei), also known as Red Fuji, from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjūrokkei), about 1830–31. Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper. Nellie Parney Carter Collection—Bequest of Nellie Parney Carter.

- Japanese Waterfall (1925), a watercolor design for a fabric pattern that Loïs Mailou Jones based on two of Hokusai’s prints from the Waterfall series: Yoshitsune’s Horse- Washing Falls at Yoshino in Yamato Province (about 1832) and Falling Mist Waterfall at Mount Kurokami in Shimotsuke Province (about 1832–33)


Loïs Mailou Jones, Japanese Waterfall (repeat pattern based on Ukiyo-e Japanese print), 1925. Opaque watercolor on board. Gift of the Loïs Mailou Jones Pierre-Noël Trust. © Lois Mailou Jones Pierre-Noël Trust.


Katsushika Hokusai, Yoshitsune’s Horse-washing Falls at Yoshino in Yamato Province (Washū Yoshino Yoshitsune uma arai no taki), from the series A Tour of Waterfalls in Various Provinces (Shokoku taki meguri), about 1832. Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper. William Sturgis Bigelow Collection.

- Robert Kushner’s White Cyclamen I (1999, courtesy of the artist and DC Moore Gallery, New York), which pays homage to Hokusai’s large flower prints.

Chemical Falls (2016, courtesy of the artist) by Merion Estes, who has looked to Hokusai as an ongoing influence throughout her career

Chiho Aoshima’s A Contented Skull (2008), recently acquired by the MFA, featuring a looming figure reminiscent of Hokusai’s depictions of vividly imagined ghosts and monsters


Chiho Aoshima, A Contented Skull, 2008. Offset lithograph. Edward S. Morse Memorial Fund. © 2003 Chiho Aoshima/Kaikai Kiki Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

- Judith Schaechter’s Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife (2004, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh), a reinterpretation of a famous illustration from Hokusai’s erotic book Kinoe no Komatsu (about 1814, Zach and Elizabeth Nelson Collection) 

Blue Surge (2023, courtesy of the artist), a site-specific installation by Taiko Chandler, made of many intricate, swirling prints on Tyvek—a durable synthetic material—and then installed in a swelling, rippling, scalloped form


Taiko Chandler, Blue Surge (detail), 2021. Monotype print on Tyvek. Courtesy of the Artist. Photo by Scott Dressel-Martin.

- A large, immersive, multimedia installation by experimental ceramicist Linda Sormin titled Boru Sibaso Paet, on the foam of the primordial sea (2023), which includes found materials, sound and video elements, as well as many of the artist’s signature sculptural works niched in a monumental metal armature.

The exhibition also introduces two groups of Hokusai-related works from the Museum’s collection that have received little attention until now: the extensive holdings of paintings by his students and a large group of drawings that purportedly came from the studio of Hokusen, one of his last living pupils. A grant from the Toshiba International Foundation supported the conservation and imaging of these previously unexplored works. Presented to the public for the first time, they advance scholarship of Hokusai’s influence, aiding in the understanding of how his characteristic style and techniques were passed down to later generations.

Hokusai: Inspiration and Influence is on view at the MFA from March 26 through July 16, 2023 in the Ann and Graham Gund Gallery. Member Preview takes place March 22–25. Timed-entry exhibition tickets, which include general admission, are required for all visitors and can be reserved in advance on mfa.org or purchased at the Museum.


Annabeth Rosen, Wave, 2012. Glazed earthenware, steel wire, steel. Museum purchase with funds donated by Martin and Deborah Hale. © Annabeth Rosen.


Utagawa Hiroshige, The Sea off Satta in Suruga Province (Suruga Satta kaijō), from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fuji sanjūrokkei), 1858. Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper. William Sturgis Bigelow Collection.


Henri Gustave Jossot, La vague (The Wave), 1894. Lithograph. Irving W. and Charlotte F. Rabb Fund for the Acquisition of Prints and Drawings.


Utagawa Kuniyoshi, The Former Emperor [Sutoku] from Sanuki Sends His Retainers to Rescue Tametomo (Sanuki no in kenzoku o shite Tametomo o sukuu zu), about 1851–52. Woodblockprint (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper. William Sturgis Bigelow Collection.


Katsushika Ōi, Three Women Playing Musical Instruments, 1818–44. Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk. William Sturgis Bigelow Collection.


Katsushika Hokusai, The Ghost of Oiwa (Oiwa-san), from the series One Hundred Ghost Stories (Hyaku monogatari), about 1831–32. Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper. William Sturgis Bigelow Collection.


Katsushika Hokusai, Watanabe no Gengo Tsuna and Inokuma Nyūdō Raiun, from an untitled series of warriors in combat, about 1833–35. Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper. William Sturgis Bigelow Collection.


Odilon Redon, The misshapen polyp floated on the shores, a sort of smiling and hideous Cyclops, plate no. 3 from the set The Origins, 1883. Lithograph on chine-collé. Lee M. Friedman Fund.


Katsushika Hokusai, Carp and Iris, about 1808–13. Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper. William Sturgis Bigelow Collection.


John La Farge, “The Fish” (or “The Fish and Flowering Branch”) window, about 1890. Leaded stained and opalescent glass. Edwin E. Jack Fund and funds donated anonymously.