This art book simply delivers Hokusai’s famed series of woodblock print landscapes accompanied by brief but enlightening commentary. Balcou’s introduction gives context about early-19th-century Japanese history and philosophy, and provides insight on Hokusai’s influences and innovations, marrying traditional aesthetics from Chinese art with new tools and techniques from farther west. Her comments on each scene highlight the natural beauty Hokusai sought to illuminate and drop fascinating details about the places and people within, and still remain palatable for those without art history degrees.
All that remains is to contemplate the images themselves, bound in a beautiful hardcover in a folding accordion style so spreads can be compared side-by-side, or even unfolded into one long scroll. Probably the next-best thing to viewing them in person, this publication is a lovely window into Hokusai’s elegant compositions, with all their affection for life and reverence for the natural world.