INDEX

UKIYO-E
The Pictures of the Floating World

The art of ukiyo-e ("pictures of the floating world"), originated in the metropolitan culture of Edo (Tokyo) during the period of Japanese history, when the political and military power was in the hands of the shoguns, and the country was virtually isolated from the rest of the world. It is an art closely connected with the pleasures of theatres, restaurants, teahouses, geisha and courtesans in the even then very large city. Many ukiyo-e prints by artists like Utamaro and Sharaku were in fact posters, advertising theatre performances and brothels, or idol portraits of popular actors and beautiful teahouse girls. But this more or less sophisticated world of urban pleasures was also animated by the traditional Japanese love of nature, and ukiyo-e artists like Hokusai and Hiroshige have had an enormous impact on landscape painting all over the world.

 

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