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I-80. Japanese Printmaking, 1615-1868

Sandy Kita

A survey of Ukiyo-e, the art of the Japanese woodblock print. Ukiyo-e literally means "floating art world," and it is through an exploration of the Floating World that produced this art that we come to understand it. The course considers how the Floating World developed in the c17 out of the earlier court culture, how it created an interest in the courtesans, actors, and famous places of Japan that became the chief subject-matter of c17-c19 printmakers, and how it declined and changed in the late c19. The course will take advantage of the extensive collection of Japanese prints owned by the University of Virginia Art Museum.

This course will cover the development of the art of the Japanese woodblock print, via lectures and through the study of the prints themselves. Lectures will introduce the major genres of Ukiyo-e, including images of women, actors, and landscapes. The resources of the University of Virginia Art Museum provide an opportunity to examine works of Ukiyo-e at first hand and to apply the techniques of connoisseurship by which dating and authenticity can be determined. Topics include: the world of courtly arts in Kyoto, Osaka, and Sakai out of which the commoner aesthetic of Edo developed; the emergence of the tradition of printmaking and painting in Edo that we call Ukiyo-e; the development of Ukiyo-e itself.

The course is aimed at relative beginners. It seeks to provide both independent collectors and dealers, and professional rare book librarians and print curators, with a basic knowledge of the development of the art of the Japanese woodblock print and exposure to the main types of Ukiyo-e that they are likely to encounter in their collecting or work. No knowledge of the Japanese language is required or expected of those attending the course.

In their personal statement, prospective students should describe the nature of their interest in Japanese woodblock prints.

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Course History

1998

Sandy Kita has taught this course at RBS almost annually since 1998.