This hardback catalogue, published to accompany a major international exhibition, aims to answer some key questions about what is shunga and why it was produced. In particular the social and cultural contexts for sex art in Japan are explored. Erotic Japanese art was heavily suppressed in Japan from the 1870s onwards as part of a process of cultural ‘modernisation’ that imported many contemporary western moral values. Only in the last twenty years or so has it been possible to publish unexpurgated examples in Japan and this landmark book places erotic Japanese art in its historical and cultural context for the first time. Drawing on the latest scholarship and featuring over 400 images of works from major public and private collections, this important book looks at painted and printed erotic images produced in Japan during the Edo period (1600–1868) and early Meiji era (1868–1912). These are related to the wider contexts of literature, theatre, the culture of the pleasure quarters, and urban consumerism; and interpreted in terms of their sensuality, reverence, humour and parody.
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