Hokusai was a Japanese artist. His famous work The Great Wave of Kanagawa (1829-32) is an often reproduced graphic artwork. Hokusai’s work was very popular under the impressionist and the post-impressionist painter Van Gogh. Characteristic features of ukiyo-e woodprints include their ordinary subject matter, the distinctive cropping of their compositions, bold and assertive outlines, absent or unusual perspective, flat regions of uniform colour, uniform lighting, absence of chiaroscuro, and their emphasis on decorative patterns.

The difference between Hokusai’s representation of a wave and that of an unknown painter from Florence (on the bicycle in the middle), is that Hokusai makes the image a graphic one, almost flat and with a distorted use of perspective. He makes use of visual overlap, by placing forms behind each other, or litteraly on top of each other. The unknown painter from Florence does not use a graphic technique, but oil paint and wants clearly to reproduce what he has seen (but not in Florence). On the painting you see a horizon, there is white and blue, and every tone in between. What these distinct waves have in common is not only their subject matter, but also that they are exposed in the open air. The sea is everywhere.