Drama and Desire: Japanese Paintings from the Floating World

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A rare gem: Drama and Desire presents 69 masterpieces of Japanese ukiyo-e  painting by such renowned masters as Hokusai, Utamaro and Harunobu,  among others--all depicting aspects of the so-called "floating world,"  the licentious demimonde of Edo (modern-day Tokyo), where actors and  courtesans, rich patrons and bohemians, cavorted. While woodblock prints  of the floating world have long been a favorite of art lovers, the  remarkable ink-and-dye paintings of the period are far less known and  much less available. This volume collects key examples by some of  Japan's most important artists, each conveying a singular and very  moving freedom of expression. Here, we find wistful interiors of  courtesans at rest, onstage panoramas of actors in their finery,  explicitly erotic scenes of lovemaking and outrageous fantasies. Essays  by renowned American and Japanese scholars, including Howard Hibbett and  Masato Naito, set the context with discussions of Edo society and  culture, the ways in which "high" and "low" arts mixed in ukiyo-e  painting, and the prominent roles played by courtesans, geishas and  male prostitutes in the subculture of the period. This is a milieu of  passion and mystery, color and flamboyance, boldly rendered in these  uncommonly exotic masterworks. Published to accompany the first major  American exhibition of ukiyo-e paintings in recent years, hosted by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.


  • Publisher:    Museum of Fine Arts Boston; 1st edition (July 1, 2007) 
  • Language:    English