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Seduction: Japan's Floating World: The John C. Weber Collection

Laura W. Allen

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ISBN 10: 093911769X / ISBN 13: 9780939117697
Published by Asian Art Museum
New Condition: New Hardcover
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Num Pages: 280 pages, Colour illustrations throughout. BIC Classification: 1FPJ; 1KBBWF; ACBP; AGC. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 317 x 241 x 32. Weight in Grams: 2006. . 2015. Hardcover with Jacket. Hardcover. . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # V9780939117697

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Title: Seduction: Japan's Floating World: The John ...

Publisher: Asian Art Museum

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:New

About this title


Featuring dozens of stunning Japanese woodblock prints, textiles, serving vessels and thoughtful essays, Seduction paints a vibrant and provocative picture of Japan's Uikoyo-e or "floating world."

The phrase "floating world" came to be associated with pleasure districts?especially the Yoshiwara in Edo (modern Tokyo), where the population was predominantly male?that were created to delight idle men and relieve them of their money. The two most important offerings were theatrical performances and sexual encounters. (Food and drink were also attractions as discussed in the essay "Sex and Sea Bream.") The quarter promised, catalogue editor Laura W. Allen writes, "Limitless options for sex and play," where "sexual partners were available in variations to suite every taste and budget."

To promote the association of the pleasure quarter with unrestrained indulgence, artists created countless beautiful and luxurious works of art. Among the most entrancing were objects now in the John C. Webber Collection, which are catalogued in this volume. Paintings and woodblock prints advertised celebrity courtesans, attracted potential patrons, and guided them through the quarter. The collection's centerpiece, A Visit to Yoshiwara by Hishikawa Moronobu (d 1694)?presented here in full as a series of gatefold pages?is one such guide. This almost fifty-eight-foot-long handscroll takes viewers on an imaginative tour of Edo's licensed pleasure quarter, laying bare its exacting etiquette, famous brothels, and chic fashions. The sensory experiences described in the handscroll?food, drink, dance, and sexual encounters?are echoed elsewhere in the collection's paintings, serving vessels, woodblock prints, and textiles.

Other highlights include eighteenth- and nineteenth-century paintings and prints of courtesans by some of Japan's most important artists: Katsukawa Shunsho (d. 1792), Kitagawa Utamaro (1754-1806), Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) and Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861). These artworks demonstrate how artists used fashion, promises of intimacy, and disguise to stimulate desire and lure potential customers.

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"The Floating World"?a catchphrase that defined the pleasure quarters of Edo-period Japan's (1615 ? 1868) and conveyed a fantasy realm where men were led to believe they could drift aimlessly in the pursue of pleasure. Brothels were a prominent feature, but other entertainment, such as theater, music, and wrestling were also offered. Pursuit of such pleasures prompted a revolution in fashion, literature, and the visual arts, as the pleasure district was marketed not just through the offer of sex but rather through the elaboration of the seductive image of a sophisticated demimonde that beckoned visitors.

Seduction show how images of courtesans were constructed as objects of desire, and it considers how the artistic version aligned with or departed from the reality of women's lives. It traces the ways that art was used to transport viewers to a constructed realm of sensory delights to stimulate desires and gratify fantasies of carefree pleasure. Editor Laura W. Allen offers an overview of the seductive spell cast by the floating world and provides helpful entries on each of the featured objects. Essays by Melinda Takeuchi, Eric C. Rath, and Julia Meech introduce the floating world, consider the role of food in the pleasure quarter, and explore the feminine gaze in the Japanese print. A translation of the texts on the Hishikawa Moronobu scroll is included. The result is a fascinating study of the way that visual objects were used to convey insider knowledge about the latest fashions in clothing, hairstyles, accessories, and even games. Armed with such knowledge, a visitor to the pleasure quarters would be prepared for the pursuit of love and other objects of desire.

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