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Worldly Pleasures, Earthly Delights

Minneapolis Institute of Art


The Minneapolis Institute of Arts is home to about 3,000 Japanese woodblock prints. These works, collectively known as ukiyo-e, or "pictures of the floating world," were produced during Japan's Edo period (1600-1868). Reflecting the interests and activities of the newly emerging class of moneyed commoners, ukiyo-e prints first featured the reigning beauties of the pleasure quarters and the dashing actors of the Kabuki Theater--the pop stars of the time. Later, artists expanded their repertoires to include landscapes, floral studies, legendary heroes, and even ghoulish themes.

The exhibition showcases 160 of the MIA's best prints by the genre's greatest artists, including Harunobu, Kiyonaga, Utamaro, Shunsho, Sharaku, Toyokuni, Hokusai, and Hiroshige. With their crisp outlines, unmodulated colors, and surprising vantage points, the images are as fresh and captivating as when they were produced. Sensuality, fashion, decadent entertainments and urban pastimes all reflect the popular tastes of young urban sophisticates of Japan's pre-modern era.
In addition, the exhibition will also feature the works of contemporary artists who are inspired by Japanese woodblock prints and the concepts underlying the floating world.

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