Shunga: sex and pleasure in Japanese art
3 October 2013 – 5 January 2014
In early modern Japan, 1600-1900, thousands of sexually explicit works of art were produced, known as ‘spring pictures’ (shunga). This exhibition, the first of its kind in the UK, examines the often tender, funny, beautiful and undoubtedly accomplished shunga that were produced by some of the masters of Japanese art, including Utamaro and Hokusai.
The exhibition is drawn from collections in the UK, Japan, Europe and USA and will feature some 170 works including paintings, sets of prints and illustrated books with text. Shunga is in some ways a unique phenomenon in pre-modern world culture, in terms of the quantity, the quality and the nature of the art that was produced. The exhibition explores key questions about what is shunga, how it circulated and to whom, and why was it produced. In particular it begins to establish the social and cultural contexts for sex art in Japan and aims to reaffirm the importance of shunga in Japanese art history.