Fleeting Pleasures

Drawn from the Georgia Museum of Art’s permanent collection, this exhibition of twenty-seven woodblock prints by some of the best known and most important ukiyo-e artists explores this “floating world” of sensuous Edo culture.

The Japanese word ukiyo literally means “the floating world.” Although it was originally a Buddhist term used to describe life’s transient or fleeting quality, by the seventeenth century, ukiyo came to describe the pleasures and mores found within the city of Edo. As Edo grew into modern-day Tokyo, it developed a robust middle class that had a major impact on the character of the city. The world of the geisha, the yoshiwara teahouse and the kabuki drama were all available to Edo’s affluent citizens, and ukiyo reflected this pleasure-based cultural atmosphere.

Artists who created ukiyo-e often drew their subject matter from the bustling metropolis of Edo and the regions surrounding it, which appealed to the newly empowered middle class. Typical subjects for these prints include scenes taken from kabuki dramas, portraits of well-known actors and courtesans, and illustrations of everyday life, especially in Edo’s entertainment districts. These subjects later expanded to include images of the natural world and depictions of famous sights across Japan.

Fleeting Pleasures: Japanese Woodblock Prints from the Georgia Museum of Art was organized by Joan Tkacs, a graduate student in art history at the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia, under the supervision of the Georgia Museum of Art’s Pierre Daura Curator of European Art, Lynn Boland.

Plan Your Visit

Exhibition Details

Date: October 8, 2022 – January 22, 2023

Venue: Lehr Gallery

Lehr Gallery Season Sponsors:

The Carole DeSoto Foundation

Artwork