Masters of the Floating World–Japan's Woodblock Print Artists: A Five-Part Course with Dr. Gavin Campbell

Masters of the Floating World–Japan's Woodblock Print Artists: A Five-Part Course with Dr. Gavin Campbell


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Can't make this time? A video recording will be sent to all participants after each event.

The Japanese woodblock print (ukiyo-e) tradition is one of the world's greatest artistic achievements. By looking at creative geniuses like Harunobu, Utamaro, Hiroshige, Hokusai, and Chikanobu, this five-part course examines the rise and development of ukiyo-e as an art form, as well the culture that sustained it from the late 1600s to the early twentieth century.

Japanese artists working in the woodblock print genre created some of the most famous works of art in the world. From Hokusai’s “Great Wave,” to Hiroshige’s “53 Stations of the Tokaido,” even those who know very little about Japan or its woodblock prints will recognize these amazing works of popular graphic art.

In this five-part course, we’ll dive deep into how they were made, who bought them, and how they were used. We’ll examine the artistic influences that shaped the genre, and highlight the legendary artists whose singular vision would profoundly shape the genre. But more than works of art, ukiyo-e also tells us about Japan’s dramatic social and political transformations during the heyday of ukiyo-e culture. Together we will, in short, study ukiyo-e as both an art and a culture.

Lecture 1: The Printed World

Our first lecture will explore the origins of uikyo-e within the context of Japan’s vibrant print culture. We will look at how prints were made and sold, and the technical and artistic innovations that pushed the genre into new territory.

Lecture 2: The Floating World

Women, beauty, sexuality, and style were some of the seminal subjects of ukiyo-e. In our second session, we will explore the courtesan culture of the Yoshiwara licensed pleasure quarters and its profound influence on the popular arts.

Please note that this week will include a short section on explicit erotic prints (“shunga”) that may not be appropriate for all ages.

Lecture 3: The Wider World

Today ukiyo-e may be best known as a Japanese artistic expression, but Japanese artists eagerly explored western art as well. In this lecture, we will examine changing themes and techniques in the ukiyo-e tradition, and show its dynamic artistic breadth.

Lecture 4: The Modern World

Rather than challenging the ukiyo-e tradition, Japan's opening to the West in the 1850s and 1860s provided ukiyo-e artists with novel topics and techniques. In our fourth session, we will explore how the ukiyo-e tradition adapted to the nation's modernization.

Lecture 5: The Artist's World

Our final lecture will look at how by the early twentieth century, faster and cheaper forms of image production nearly stamped out the ukiyo-e tradition. But in the 1910s and 1920s, artists made one more major contribution to the ukiyo-e art with “shin-hanga”: "new prints" that aimed to blend modern art and Japanese ukiyo-e.

Gavin received a Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and came to Kyoto in 2001. He is a Ph.D. professor of history at Doshisha University. His teaching and research revolve around Japan's cultural encounters with the West, particularly during the Edo, Meiji, Taisho and early Showa periods (1600-1940), and he has published on the history of foreign tourism and of Protestant missionaries in Japan. To further explore Japan's global cultural encounters, he is currently writing a book on the history of Japanese menswear from the 1600s through the early 20th century. He is also an expert on Kyoto geisha culture and a frequent participant in geisha entertainment.

How does it work?

This is a five-part journey series held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

Is there a reading list in advance?

Though the course is open to participants with no background on this topic, there are suggested readings for further investigation. You will receive this soon after course registration.

How long are the lectures?

Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.

How much is the course?

The course is $175 for five lectures.

Is a recording available?

Yes. If you need to miss a lecture, you will be sent a recording after the event.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 23 reviews
100%
(23)
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Richard Yoast (Rio Rancho, US)
Better than excellent

This was an amazingly informative and enjoyable course. The lecturer was extremely knowledgeable about both the art, the artists and the surrounding culture. Each lecture had numerous pictures of the prints, often accompanied by music and videos. I've rarely encountered such a well=prepared lecturer who had clearly put in a lot of work in preparing the course. He left two times during each lecture for questions and discussion and made the experience feel much more personal and reflective of each student's needs and interests. Every session was totally enjoyable and made me want to further explore the subject matter and these prints.

K
Kathy K (Leominster, US)
An Outstanding Course

Dr. Campbell’s conversations are always very well organized, easy to follow, insightful and interactive. This 5 part course on Japan’s woodblock prints was no exception. If any of Dr. Campbell’s topics interest you, don’t hesitate in attending. You will come away with a greater understanding and awareness of the subject matter.

A
Anonymous (Iowa City, US)
Outstanding series

Highly educational and entertaining lectures. Great slideshow, the addition of the videos and sounds is very effective and helpful.

S
Sandra Alderson (Daventry, GB)
Japanese Woodblock Printing

Gavin is very accomplished in his subject and was easy to listen to. He projected enthusiastically and the lecture was well illustrated with slides. Although I like art of any kind, the history of the woodblock prints and how they were produced and the life behind the prints was fascinating. I shall definitely try to do more reading on the subject. Thank you for such a delightful 90 minutes!

A
Anonymous (Iowa City, US)

Guest did not leave comment

Customer Reviews

Based on 23 reviews
100%
(23)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
R
Richard Yoast (Rio Rancho, US)
Better than excellent

This was an amazingly informative and enjoyable course. The lecturer was extremely knowledgeable about both the art, the artists and the surrounding culture. Each lecture had numerous pictures of the prints, often accompanied by music and videos. I've rarely encountered such a well=prepared lecturer who had clearly put in a lot of work in preparing the course. He left two times during each lecture for questions and discussion and made the experience feel much more personal and reflective of each student's needs and interests. Every session was totally enjoyable and made me want to further explore the subject matter and these prints.

K
Kathy K (Leominster, US)
An Outstanding Course

Dr. Campbell’s conversations are always very well organized, easy to follow, insightful and interactive. This 5 part course on Japan’s woodblock prints was no exception. If any of Dr. Campbell’s topics interest you, don’t hesitate in attending. You will come away with a greater understanding and awareness of the subject matter.

A
Anonymous (Iowa City, US)
Outstanding series

Highly educational and entertaining lectures. Great slideshow, the addition of the videos and sounds is very effective and helpful.

S
Sandra Alderson (Daventry, GB)
Japanese Woodblock Printing

Gavin is very accomplished in his subject and was easy to listen to. He projected enthusiastically and the lecture was well illustrated with slides. Although I like art of any kind, the history of the woodblock prints and how they were produced and the life behind the prints was fascinating. I shall definitely try to do more reading on the subject. Thank you for such a delightful 90 minutes!

A
Anonymous (Iowa City, US)

Guest did not leave comment