The exhibition entitled Painting the Floating World – Ukiyo-e Masterpieces from the Weston Collection, which I blogged about here is ending on 27 January.
According to the website of the Art Institute of Chicago the courtesans, geisha, and actors depicted in the ukiyo-e paintings of the 17th -19th centuries were the beautiful people of Edo-period Japan. “The world they moved in, the “floating world” (ukiyo), was all about glamour, sophistication, and style. The fashions they wore reflected not only class and occupation but also trends and individual taste, all of which were focused on the attempt to create an ideal picture of beauty.
Though the overall look of each individual bijin (beauty) was created by the combination of cosmetics, clothing, and hairstyle, this video focuses on the complicated process and elaborate result of hairstyling. Filmed in a shrine in near Kyoto, the 90-year-old Minami Tomiko, one of the few living masters of the art, recreates three intricate hairstyles”. These are the Kamome tabo or seagull’s tail, the Tōrōbin or lantern locks, and the Yoko hyōgo or butterfly.
It’s amazing to see just how much work went into creating these elaborate styles, and this really brought the world in which these women moved to life.
Click here to view the video.
Exhibition dates: 4 November 2018 – 27 January 2019
Although this exhibition doesn’t feature textiles themselves, the textiles depicted in the paintings are fascinating.
In the 17th century, Kyoto, Osaka, and Edo (now Tokyo) were Japan’s thriving cities, complete with bustling entertainment districts where ukiyo, or the “floating world,” was born. People of all ranks shared in the enjoyment of the floating world’s attractions—brothels, kabuki theatre, and seasonal festivities. Artists of the period captured this popular phenomena in ukiyo-e, or “pictures of the floating world.” Over the last 25 years, Roger Weston has assembled an outstanding collection of ukiyo-e paintings—masterpieces by the most famed artists of the day. This exhibition at the Art Institute Chicago, the first public showing of his comprehensive ukiyo-e painting collection in the United States, showcases the sheer beauty of floating world painting and offers an exclusive view of the urban amusements of early modern Japan.
Accompanied by a 350-page catalogue that includes major new essays by leading scholars, Painting the Floating World features over 150 works from the 17th through the 19th century. Each painting offers an exquisite glimpse of the past; as a whole the exceptional collection reveals ukiyo-e’s rich connection to trends in fashion, beauty, and cultural life over centuries.
A very interesting article on one of these masterpieces – Hell Courtesan by Kawanabe Kyosai – can be read here