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Drama and Desire: Paintings from the Floating World

"Drama and Desire"
courtesy of the Asian Art Museum

In history, there are many time periods that are defined by their unabashed hedonism. The pleasure-seeking societies of Ancient Rome, 18th century France and the roaring ’20s most frequently come to mind, but rarely does the era of the Floating World, the early modern Japanese Edo period—known best for its sparring samurais, tantalizing geishas and courtesan. This period, which existed between 1600 and 1876, was not only marked by its lecherous activities but for a new appreciation of aesthetics in art, literature and music. One of the most remarkable artistic statements of the time were the woodblock depictions of the Floating World, which portrayed geishas performing, samurais in mid-fight and tableaus of forbidden romance that captured the epoch in all its sensualistic glory. Now, for the first time in more than a 100 years these paintings of the Floating World are on display at the Asian Art Museum. The exhibition “Drama and Desire: Japanese Paintings from the Floating World,” which opens on Friday, February 15, features classic Japanese artists like Hiroshige and Hokusai among others. Come take a rare glimpse at a world that came to symbolize the height of lust, decadence and fine art.

Drama and Desire: Japanese Paintings from the Floating World"
Asian Art Museum  200 Larkin St., 415-581-3500
Friday, February 15 – Sunday May 4