ukiyo-e


ukiyo-e
/yooh kee"oh ay'/; Japn. /oo kee"yaw e"/, n.
a genre style of painting and printmaking developed in Japan from the 17th to the 19th centuries and marked by the depiction of the leisure activities of ordinary people.
[1895-1900; < Japn, equiv. to uki-yo transitory world (uki float + yo world) + (w)e picture (perh. < MChin; cf. Chin huà)]

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(Japanese; "pictures of the floating world")

Dominant art movement of the Edo culture in Japan.

Screen paintings were the first works to be done in the style, which depicted aspects of the entertainment quarters ("floating world") of Edo (modern Tokyo) and other cities. Ukiyo-e artists switched their focus to wood-block prints, which were mass-produced for an eager public. Favourite ukiyo-e subjects included famous courtesans and prostitutes, kabuki actors in famous roles, and erotica; they were executed in flat, decorative colours and expressive patterns. Hishikawa Moronobu is generally accredited as the first master of ukiyo-e. The transition from single-to two-colour prints was made by Okumura Masanobu; in 1765 polychrome prints using numerous blocks were introduced by Suzuki Harunobu. The essence of the ukiyo-e style was embodied in the works of Utamaro, Hokusai, and Hiroshige. The prints attracted much attention in Europe in the 19th century and had a great influence on avant-garde French artists such as the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists.

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▪ Japanese art
 (Japanese: “pictures of the floating world”), one of the most important genres of art of the Tokugawa period (1603–1867) in Japan. The style is a mixture of the realistic narrative of the emaki (“picture scrolls”) produced in the Kamakura period and the mature decorative style of the Momoyama and Tokugawa periods. The ukiyo-e style also has about it something of both native and foreign realism.

      Screen paintings were the first works to be done in the style. These depicted aspects of the entertainment quarters (euphemistically called the “floating world”) of Edo (modern Tokyo) and other urban centres. Common subjects included famous courtesans and prostitutes, kabuki actors and well-known scenes from kabuki plays, and erotica. More important than screen painting, however, were wood-block prints, ukiyo-e artists being the first to exploit that medium. A new interest in the urban everyday world and its market motivated the swift development of ukiyo-e prints designed for mass consumption.

       Hishikawa Moronobu is generally accredited as the first master of ukiyo-e. The transition from single- to two-colour prints was made by Okumura Masanobu. In 1765 polychrome prints using numerous blocks were introduced by Suzuki Harunobu. The essence of the ukiyo-e style was embodied in the works of Utamaro, Hokusai, and Hiroshige.

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Universalium. 2010.

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