Currently reading : Shunga: Sex and Humour in Japanese Art

Shunga: Sex and Humour in Japanese Art

10 August 2013

Author : joseph-delaney


This October the British Museum presents an exhibition of Japanese Shunga, sexually explicit artworks, made between 1600 – 1900.


Shunga, literally translated as ‘picture of spring’, spring being a common euphemism for sex, were the original form of mass produced erotica and primarily part of the ukiyo-e, ‘pictures of the floating world’, images from the Edo period pleasure quarters where the increasingly affluent mercantile class engaged in hedonistic pursuits outside of the view of socially conservative Japanese daily culture.


These erotic images, though in a way still a kind of social taboo, were made alongside images of a more conservative nature by the period’s most renowned artists, from kitigawa utamaro’s graphic depictions of courtesans to katsushika hokusai’s (known for the infamous Great Wave off Kanagawa) images of a girl being ravished by octopuses.


kitagawa utamaro

katsushika hokusai


The exhibition will run 3 Oct 2013 – 5 Jan 2014

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