With its new exhibition, titled Miroir du désir – Images de femmes dans l’estampe japonaise (Mirror of Desire – Images of Women in Japanese Woodblock Prints), Musée Guimet unveils a part of its rich collection of Japanese woodblock prints belonging to the Edo period (1603-1868).
A unique visual experience, the exhibition provides a mesmerising tour through different representations of the female body in ukiyo-e and shunga, Japanese art forms of woodblock printing and painting art forms, that flourished during the Edo period.
While the traditional woodblock printing art form of ukiyo-e included depictions of women, kabuki actors, sumo wrestlers, landscapes, flora and fauna as well as erotica, the erotic art of shunga represented an idealised, fantastical world of eroticism and sexual relationships. With a focus on the depiction of women and female bodies in Japanese traditional woodblock prints, Musée Guimet’s exhibition seeks to go beyond the usual connotations of pornography and eroticism generally associated with ukiyo-e and shunga. The works on display include depictions of courtesans, the pleasure district Yoshiwara, as well as 18th and 19th-century shunga prints.