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Hokusai at Museum Guimet, Paris

Hokusai, great Japanese artist obsessed by the representation of Mount Fuji, which inspired the painter Van Gogh, is the subject of a retrospective at the Guimet.
Upon his brother who was surprised, Vincent Van Gogh loved to recall that existed in Japan an extraordinary painter who could spend hours reproduce blades of grass. At the end of the nineteenth century, Van Gogh but also Manet, Monet, Gauguin and the Nabis on them does swore by him, Hokusai, Japanese artist whose prints invading France. Today, Hokusai is without doubt the Japanese painter best known in the West, partly for its famous series 36 Views of Mount Fuji and much less for the non-famous Great Wave, a classic Japanese painting of the nineteenth. He is also the extension of the term manga, dear lovers of comic books. He had taken this formula La Manga, which can be roughly translated to "outline ridiculous" to characterize his fifteen books filled with thousands of drawings published to its followers. The Guimet Museum in Paris has a large collection of works of Hokusai, who was born in 1760, the result of several donations that have spread over the twentieth century. The last date of 2001, when Norbert Lagane, a french industrial, bequeathed 130 master prints and a dozen paintings. One of them is unique and exceptional: the Dragon among the clouds is the artistic testament of Hokusai, who died in 1849. It is for another painting Tigre, Ota kept at the Museum of Tokyo. The two are brought together in the exhibition. Tribute to donors who, since 1891, managed to enter the Japanese art at the Louvre, this exhibition is the first importance that enshrines the Guimet Museum in Hokusai, yet admired for over a century. "It was one of the first Japanese artists to attract fans in Europe, collectors and artists. By contrast, in his country, he suffered during his lifetime of a popular image. And it took the Western recognition for it is considered a major artist, "says Helena Bayou, curator of the exhibition. The title of the retrospective "The panic of his art" borrows from the writer Edmond de Goncourt, who wrote the first monograph painter, which released "Hokusai, the old man crazy about drawing." It discovers, the Guimet Museum, which Hokusai beginnings in the late eighteenth century, works in the studio of Katsukawa master, where he directed like most artists, portraits of famous actors and beautiful courtesans. These Ukiyo-e (pictures of the floating world) feeding a stream pictorial illustrating life in places of entertainment such licensed homes tea and kabuki theatre. He also painted shungas, these erotic prints that sell like hot cakes to a class of wealthy amateurs.  Man free and individualistic fanatical, the painter will leave the workshop, multiplying signatures on his works. There is a fifty. When he left, he allows the use of his name to his best student who adopts followed by the number "II". Hokusai stands out already. He excels particularly in the genre and represents the little people of Edo (Tokyo future). Eager knowledge, he studied Western painting. He discovers the line of flight, perspective, shading, the chiaroscuro. His painting explodes. We are in 1830 and it revolutionizes Japanese painting landscape by putting the heart of its theme. Mount Fuji, sacred mountain of Japanese, will be his Everest. In the space of two years, an avalanche of prints successive whose names evoke the race days and seasons: Wind costs by clear morning, Orage on the summit. He painted 46, multiplying the angles. On one, he dares scarlet for a landscape and sign a dazzling red Fuji.  The Prussian blue, an artificial pigment just imported from Holland, has its favours. The color splashes a table that will tour the world, Assistant wave off Kawagana, better known in the West under the name Great Wave. For artists french, when the debate between classicism and modernity rages, Hokusai resolutely embodies the future. It will do nothing. He died in 1849 in poverty, shortly after it predicted: "Even five years and I will become a great artist. "

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