Mad about Painting


Mad about Painting is the first book to compile a beautifully-curated selection of English translations of Hokusai’s painting tutorials and related essays written by Hokusai and his peers, paired with contemporary writings that contextualize Hokusai’s work artistically and culturally in Japan and beyond.


ISBN: 9781644230879 Category:

Katsushika Hokusai


Best known for his iconic print Under the Wave off Kanagawa, also known as the Great Wave, Katsushika Hokusai was a revolutionary printmaker. His mastery of ukiyo-e in the nineteenth century has inspired generations of artists since, and his works exposed the world to the delicate beauty and power of Japanese woodblock technique. In addition to his remarkable artistic output, Hokusai was also a dedicated teacher who sought to pass down his deep understanding of color and painting to practicing artists through immensely detailed written tutorials. Here, for the first time in centuries, are excerpts from his manuals, many available for the first time in English. It is an invaluable insight into the psyche of a true master, and a rare personal account of an artist’s life during a fascinating period in Japan’s history.

Connecting Hokusai’s prints from the Edo period to manga, author Ryoko Matsuba foregrounds Hokusai’s contributions to Japanese creative expression from the 1800s to today. Also included in this book: Vincent Van Gogh’s letter about Hokusai’s Great Wave and the contemporary artist Ikeda Manabu’s concise observations about Hokusai’s lasting influence.

Additional information

Weight 138 g
Dimensions 10.8 x 17.6 cm
Publisher name David Zwirner Books
Publication date 18 June 2023
Number of pages 96
Format Paperback / softback
Contributors Introduction by Ryoko Matsuba
Dimensions 10.8 x 17.6 cm
Weight 138 g


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Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) was born in Edo (present-day Tokyo), Japan, and was known by at least thirty names during his lifetime. In 1798, he declared his artistic independence and officially adopted the name "Hokusai." From that point until his death in 1849, he worked in three distinct formats: single-sheet prints, book illustrations, and multicolor paintings. In around 1831, when he was in his early seventies, he produced his most celebrated print series, Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji, which includes the Great Wave, the painting for which he is best known. Numerous copies of these works may be found in public and private collections outside of Japan, and Hokusai's rich artistic legacy continues to draw attention and admiration around the world to this day.

Ryoko Matsuba is a specialist in Edo period print culture. She is currently a lecturer in Japanese Digital Arts and Humanities at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, University of East Anglia. She was a curatorial contributor to two major exhibitions at the British Museum: Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave (2017) and The Citi Exhibition: Manga (2019), for which she co-authored the exhibition catalogue.