Over one hundred and fifty works –including polychrome prints, paintings and horizontal scrolls – portraying and celebrating the customs…Read more
Over one hundred and fifty works –including polychrome prints, paintings and horizontal scrolls – portraying and celebrating the customs and lifestyle of Japanese society in the two and a half centuries preceding 1854 when the country opened to the rest of the world. It was a period of great transformation marked by a tightening of the feudal system, the appearance of social institutions of a more modern type, the emergence of a mercantile and entrepreneurial class and the development of new taste, new art and new forms of entertainment.
This was ukiyoe, literally “painting of the floating world”, which appeared at the end of the sixteenth century in the bourgeois environments of Kyoto and Osaka, the two major Japanese cities of that period, portraying and celebrating the customs and lifestyle of the chonin, the new social class, economically strong yet politically emarginated, that had emerged due to urbanisation.
The term ukiyo, which from its appearance in the Middle Ages had referred to the transience of worldly things, came to represent the world of sensual pleasures, strong emotions, desires, whims, passions; the subjects treated were places of entertainment, restaurants and kabuki theatres, inhabited by courtesans and young actors, the celebrated quarters of the cities and their surroundings.
Typically century-old and courteous, portraying the style and life-style of this new urban class, ukiyoe art maintained its life and vitality during the three centuries of its development, foreshadowing aspects, forms and modes of contemporary visual culture. It is a world of images capable of asserting and revealing with great inventive and figurative energy, unquenchable vitality and ability to communicate, the new views of a way of life which rapidly produced literature, entertainment and fashion and which, containing a precocious, potent sense of publicity, played its part in creating popular stars among the same courtesans and kabuki actors.
This volume, catalogue of the Genoese exhibition, includes about forty paintings and about 120 polychrome prints chosen from the magnificent collection of the Chiossone museum, unique masterpieces which, brought together and exhibited for the first time in Italy at the prestigious Ducal Palace in Genoa, represent the entire stylistic development of ukiyoe from about 1680 to 1860.
Genoa, Palazzo Ducale
16 April – 21 August 2005
The official catalogue is available at the exhibition bookshop and at the Skira bookstore in via Torino 61 in Milan and from 4 May 2005 in all Italian bookstores.