Dr. Julie Nelson Davis gave a talk titled “Ukiyo-e in Context” for the DLLC Distinguished Scholar Lecture Series
Dr. Davis is Professor of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania and is one of the foremost experts on Japanese ukiyo-e, the pictures of the floating world. She has published extensively on the topic, including two books, Utamaro and Spectacle of Beauty (2007) and Partners in Print: Artistic Collaboration and the Ukiyo-e Market (2015). Davis has also been guest curator for numerous exhibitions, most recently “Inventing Utamaro: A Japanese Masterpiece Rediscovered” (2017) at the Freer and Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian.
Ukiyo-e, the “pictures of the floating world,” is widely appreciated for its stunning sheet prints of the diversions of contemporary life. In this talk, Davis put these works into a larger context, showing how sheet prints and illustrated books were made in tandem with popular entertainments, appreciated by consumers, critics, and makers for their technical and artistic skill, collected and recorded in period documents. By placing these works into a complex and varied context — where some works were made for a commercial market, backed by savvy entrepreneurs seeking out new ways to make a profit, while others were produced for private coteries and high-ranking individuals seeking cultural capital – she engaged issues around these works as a material investment and as an emerging art form.