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EALC 203: Ukiyo-e (HC/BMC): Further background research

East Asian Languages and Cultures 203: Ukiyo-e: The Art of Japanese Prints (Schoneveld) Spring 2017

A short guide to writing about Art

Writing about art can be challenging. A good place to start is to look at the following book (see link below), particularly pages 77-133. In it, you will find a selection of questions to ask yourself when analyzing artwork. 

Relevant Books on Japanese Art

General books on Asian art, Japanese art, or more specifically, print culture in east Asia can be a good place to begin research as it will provide more detailed information than an encyclopedia entry, but will not spend too much time on one topic. Use these texts and monographs like them to discover themes related to your topic. 

Relevant Books on Ukiyo-e

The following books are good examples of art books specifically about Ukiyo-e. Some are in Japanese. 

  • Japanese Woodblock Prints: artists, publishers, and masterworks, 1680-1900. This is an excellent introduction to woodblock prints and the technology that shaped Japanese art. 
  • Impressions of Ukiyo-e: This book is a good place to start because it explores not only the art form itself, but the influence Ukiyo-e had upon Western impressionist art. Through a thematic analysis, Woldemar von Seidlitz and Dora Amsden implicitly underline the immense influence which this movement had on the entire artistic scene of the West. These magnificent prints represent the evolution of the feminine ideal, the place of the Gods, and the importance accorded to landscape, and are also an invaluable witness to a society now long gone.
  • Ukiyo-eComprising six essays, six plate sections and over 600 illustrations this beautiful book provides a perfect introduction to the art of this period. The paintings, scrolls and prints reproduced here demonstrate not only the new urban pleasures of the theatre, restaurants, teahouses and geisha, but also Japan's love of nature and tradition.
  • 橫浜浮世絵と近代日本 : 異国 "橫浜" を旅する Yokohama ukiyoe to kindai Nihon Ikoku "Yokohama" o tabisuru [Yokohama Ukiyo-e and modern Japan: traveling in a foreign country]. This book covers Japanese prints from a slightly later period, but can be used to expand one's view of the influence of Ukiyo-e. Focuses on Yokohama. 
  • 浮世絵 : 江戶の絵画 IV, 工芸 II Ukiyoe Edo no kaiga IV ; kogei II [Ukiyo-e: Painting in Edo; crafts] The benefit of this book is that the color plates included in the text are extremely high quality. 

Ukiyoe Catalogs

Exhibition catalogs can be specific to a museum or gallery and cover an artist's show, a group show, or a given theme. Here are some catalogs that are specific to Ukiyoe prints. Catalogue raisonnés are published in order to list everything a given artist has produced over the course of their lifetime (or part of their life).