Ukiyo-e: Images of a Floating WorldOctober 11, 2002 - October 11, 2002
Ukiyo-e, or images of a floating world, are Japanese woodblock prints from the 17th to early 20th century. The term “ukiyo-e” came to refer to the depiction of the light-hearted entertainment and pleasures characteristic of the wealthy merchant class who inhabited the big cities during the Edo period (1615-1868).
The prints mirror the life of this class in rich and vibrant detail. However, ukiyo-e were cheap, mass-produced and served as posters or pin-up art for the common people, and were often purchased from street vendors. They were also incorporated into calendars, memorials, greeting cards and advertisements. Ukiyo-e were the result of a team effort which included the artist, an engraver, a printer and a publisher. They feature four main subject matters: kabuki theatre; courtesans and geishas; landscapes; and historical and legendary events.