Professor Timon Screech, The Essence of the Floating World in Early Modern Japanese Art


  • 5.15pm

  • Hunter Building, Hunter Lecture Theatre (017)
    74 Lauriston Place
    Edinburgh
    EH3 9DF

Timon Screech is Professor in History of Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He has been at SOAS since graduation from Harvard (PhD, 1991) and was elected to a Chair in the History of Art in 2006.

He has published widely on many aspects of Edo period art and culture, and has written several books in Japanese and English. He has also been visiting professor of Art History at the University of Chicago, and guest researcher at Gakushuin and Waseda Universities in Tokyo.

His current research mainly relates to the history of the English East India Company in Japan, and especially its dealings in works of art. His book The Cargo of the New Year's Gift: Paintings from London for Asian Rulers, 1615, is now reaching completion. He is also studying the deification of the first shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and the cult established for him at Nikko.

His major study of the arts of the early-modern period, Obtaining Images, Art, Production and Display in Edo Japan, was published in 2012.

His talk discusses the Essence of the Floating World in Early Modern Japanese Art

The Floating World is an important phenomenon in Japanese art, and 'pictures of the Floating World' (ukiyoe) are among the most widely-admired in the whole Japanese tradition. However, in order to understand what such pictures mean we need to analyse the world which engendered them, and also to compare this with its opposite, the art of the 'fixed' world. Conditions of 'floating' were consciously opposed to normality, and their imagery was intended to be counter-cultural.

The talk is free and open to all. Drinks are served afterwards in the John Higgitt Gallery.

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