Thursday, February 14, 2013
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Lecture: "Sex and Society in Edo Japan"
By Shawn Eichman

For much of the 20th century, shunga, or erotic art, was banished to the closed doors and dark corners of Japanese art history. While this has changed in recent years, discussions concerning the role of sexuality in Japanese art during the Edo period (1615-1868) are still plagued by misunderstandings. Why, and for whom, was shunga made? Is it pornography? Is sexuality in Japanese art limited to shunga, or is it part of a larger phenomenon found in other genres? Can we understand shunga through the filter of modern concepts about sexuality and art, or does it offer challenges that require us to reevaluate some of our most fundamental ideas about these basic aspects of the human experience? This talk will provide an introduction to sexuality in Japanese art, offering insights into the social context of shunga, and a consideration of shunga in light of other ways in which sex and art intersected during the Edo period.

Shawn Eichman is Curator of Asian Art at the Honolulu Museum of Art, and co-curator of the exhibition Arts of the Bedchamber: Japanese Shunga.

Free of charge
Doris Duke Theater
Honolulu Museum of Art
Theater website