Painting the Floating World Ukiyo-e Masterpieces from the Weston Collection Janice Katz, Mami Hatayama, T. J. Clark, Takako Murata, Helen Nagata, Seiji Nagata, Jenny Preston, Sara Sumpter, Tanya Uyeda

Publication date:
13 Nov 2018
Art Institute of Chicago
350 pages: 330 x 235mm
278 color illus., including 8 gatefolds


From the 17th through the 19th century, artists in Kyoto and Edo (now Tokyo) captured the metropolitan amusements of the floating world (ukiyo in Japanese) through depictions of subjects such as the beautiful women of the Yoshiwara pleasure quarters and performers of the kabuki theater. In contrast to ukiyo-e prints by artists such as Katsushika Hokusai, which were widely circulated, ukiyo-e paintings were specially commissioned, unique objects that displayed the maker’s technical skill and individual artistic sensibility.
Featuring more than 150 works from the celebrated Weston Collection, the most comprehensive of its kind in private hands and published here for the first time in English, this lavishly illustrated and meticulously researched volume addresses the genre of ukiyo-e painting in all its complexity. Individual essays explore topics such as shunga (erotica), mitate-e (images that parody or transform a well-known story or legend), and poetic inscriptions, revealing the crucial role that ukiyo-e painting played in a sophisticated urban culture.

Janice Katz is Roger L. Weston Associate Curator of Japanese Art at the Art Institute of Chicago. Mami Hatayama is curator of the Weston Collection.