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Ukiyo-e (Themes) Hardcover – 15 Oct 2005

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Phaidon Press (15 Oct. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0714845388
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714845388
  • Product Dimensions: 26 x 5.1 x 29.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,666,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

Review

'There are stunningly beautiful pictures of actors and courtesans, prostitutes, landscapes and flowers... Degas borrowed from them, Van Gogh copied them, and almost every important European artist was influenced by them.' (The Sunday Times)

About the Author

Gian Carlo Calza is Professor of East Asian Art History at the University of Venice, and Director of the International Hokusai Research Centre in Milan. He has published many books, exhibition catalogues and articles on Hokusai, and is currently preparing a catalogue raisonné of Hokusai's paintings. He was awarded the 2004 Uchiyama Prize by the International Ukiyo-e Society of Tokyo for his contribution to the study of Japanese Ukiyo-e ('Floating World') culture.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This huge book is a tremendous achievement in terms of bringing together a large body of material. It has contributions from a number of experts, with thematic essays. The quality of information is excellent, the only slight disadvantage being that text entries are separate from the illustrations.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gary Parker on 4 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wow, I didn't realise how large, thick and heavy this book would be until it arrived. Impressive! It offers excellent, detailed coverage of Japanese woodblock prints, including rarities seldom seen in books. It seems to stop at 1868, though, so doesn't include masters from the late 1800s or some of my personal favourite Japanese prints, Goyo's from 1915-1920.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A Good Book for Pictures, but not for Information 4 Jun. 2008
By Kara - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I saw this book at the Freer and Sackler museum in Washington, DC and wanted it simply for the fact that it covered so many different types of ukiyo-e. This book showcases ukiyo-e depicting the theater, depicting sexual relations, depicting nature and man's interaction with nature. It depicts the many different aspects of the Edo culture, which is what attracts me to ukiyo-e.

That being said, while I love the pure quantity of the images and the variety of artists (try finding a book about ukiyo-e that shows a few artists other than Hokusai), I wish it had more text. Not text explaining the art or artists, but text regarding the natures of change that were occurring in Japanese society at the time. That information really deepens the beauty of this art form.

I do like the discussions included in the book about the process and mechanics of creating ukiyo-e.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Dont drop this book on your foot--OUCH! 29 Jan. 2006
By Rico Lebrun - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The eternal search for the perfect art book with lots of high quality, large images. This book is predominantly images, with little supporting text. Which is just fine by me. The bredth of this book is its selling point. Its huge, covering a long span of time. My only issue is the size of the images. NOt all, but some are just to small. But, thats why I have a magnifying glass at hand. If you want to own one really good book on Ukiyo-e, this just might be your best bet.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
The Book as Art 22 Dec. 2005
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
One of the most frequently referenced periods of Eastern art is the Edo Period in Japan, a time when woodcuts, scrolls, prints, and ink drawings literally flowed from the brushes and hands of craftsmen such as Hokusai, Utamaro, and Hiroshige. The depiction of ocean waves is still informing the art of many artists - Pat Steir comes to mind first. This is the period of ukiyo-e, a time of emperors and grandeur and shoguns and power, all captured in the enormously imaginative art. It was also a period when artists turned their attention to the honor of the geisha life, the teahouses, and the palaces of pleasure with graphic sexual depictions, a time when the rest of the outside world seemed to matter little to the level of culture in Edo (now Tokyo) for over 200 years.

This splendid book is in a very large format that allows the reproductions of the plates to resemble life size! Intertwined with the well written history of art and techniques as well as erudite essays on the Japanese sociopolitical, cultural, the all important Japanese tradition of the time are placed generous examples of the finest works by the finest artists. The art is flat dimensionally but hardly communicatively. Elegant portraits of geishas reveal the traditional garb and makeup and represent a history lesson for these women of pleasure. The pure landscapes and seascapes and views mountains and volcanoes are representative of the fact that Japan is an island and never far from the influence of water.

Though the book is expensive the investment is well worth the cost as only the finest paper, printing techniques, and design have been extravagantly lavished on this very beautiful and informative volume. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, December 05
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Huge and beautiful 29 Dec. 2011
By wiredweird - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If you could have only one book on Japan's wonderful tradition of woodcut prints, it should be this. This book collects hundreds of prints, from every era, subject, and major artist in the genre. There's even, at the end of one section, a tribute to shunga - the erotic "images of spring." This is the most complete collection of woodcuts from the floating world that I know of.

I really like this, make no mistake. Two of its features drive me slightly bonkers, though. First, it's organized by the subject of each work: Kabuki, tradition, nature, landscape, women. That might make sense for someone looking for an image to suit some specific design purpose. But, for someone interested in the artists and the history of the medium, chronological or by artist would have made more sense. Second, and this is understandable, many images have been reduced so much in reproduction that details become illegible. In some cases, height and width have been reduce to half or less of the original dimension. I understand the need to reduce for reproduction, and the tradeoff of larger pictures vs. more of them, but this is still disappointing.

Fortunately, however, the major artists have anthologies of their own, with more respect for the fine points of each image. If you think of this as an introduction or cursory catalog, it's a great jumping-off point for the more interested reader. And, despite its flaws, it's still worth having.

-- wiredweird
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Incorrect text in book. 18 Dec. 2010
By naware - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A couple of people wrote that there is not much text in this book. Well, thank God for small mercies because the little bit of text in the book is wrong. So much for the person who described the writing as "erudite." I'm not sure how it can be erudite when it isn't even minimally factual.

I flipped through this book for 5 minutes in a used bookstore and found a major mistake in it. That is kind of pathetic considering that I am not an expert or collector of woodblock prints. The book has a couple of pictures by Kitagawa Utamaro that it has mislabeled. Utamaro clearly labeled the pictures as Takashima Ohisa. They are of her front and back. She is wearing muted black, yellow, and green. Well, the "erudite" authors or editors of this book labeled these woodblocks as 'Nanbaya Okita,' who is another girl that Utamaro made paintings of. I have seen the prints that they confused these prints with. Those prints are similar in that they show the front and back of a girl but she is holding a teacup instead of a fan and as I recall, the colors are more bold blue and red, I think. Clearly, people who do not read Japanese fluently worked on this book. That is a shame. Considering the correct name is actually written on the print in Japanese by the artist, it is hard to accept the mislabel. A second or third grader in Japan can read the kanji for 'taka' and 'shima' and a kindergartner can read 'ohisa' in hiragana. Maybe the editors should have gotten some Japanese elementary school children to help them edit the book? Perhaps, then they would not have made such an obvious error? It is hard for me to trust the text in the rest of the book.
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