Hokusai: Inspiration and Influence

March 26–July 16, 2023

Linda Sormin | Boru Sibaso Paet, on the foam of the primordial sea | on view at the MFA Boston


Time to gear-up for an exciting journey with Linda Sormin in Hokusai: Inspiration and Influence at the MFA BostonOn view is a daunting multi-storied ceramic and mixed media installation – Boru Sibaso Paet, on the foam of the primordial sea!

Making Waves across Centuries

Thanks to the popularity of works like 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 of all time. Taking a new approach to this endlessly inventive and versatile Japanese artist, “Hokusai: Inspiration and Influence” explores his impact both during his lifetime and beyond. More than 100 woodblock prints, paintings, and illustrated books by Hokusai are on view alongside about 200 works by his teachers, students, rivals, and admirers, creating juxtapositions that demonstrate his influence through time and space.

A Lasting Influence

Visitors can see Hokusai’s legacy 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 and Yoshitomo Nara. In the exhibition’s largest section, dedicated to Under the Wave off Kanagawa (the Great Wave) (about 1830–31), Hokusai’s print appears with works that riff on or directly cite the iconic image, including John Cederquist’s How to Wrap Five Waves (1994–95), Roy Lichtenstein’s Drowning Girl (1963), Andy Warhol’s The Great Wave (After Hokusai) (1980–87), and even a Lego recreation (2021) by Lego certified professional Jumpei Mitsui. The sweeping range of work shows Hokusai’s ubiquity and enduring appeal, which shows no sign of fading anytime soon.