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Title: Art, sex, and institutions : defining, collecting, and displaying shunga
Author: Boyd, Louise Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 5989 2154
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2016
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In Edo-Japan (c.1603 – 1868) shunga, sexually explicit prints, paintings and illustrated books, were widely produced and disseminated. However, from the 1850s onwards, shunga was suppressed by the government and it has largely been omitted from art history, excluded from exhibitions and censored in publications. Although changes have taken place, cultural institutions continue to be cautious about what they collect and exhibit, with shunga largely remaining a prohibited subject in Japan. Since the 1970s there has been a gradual increase in the acceptance of shunga outside Japan, as evidenced in the growing number of exhibitions and publications. The initial impetus behind this thesis was: Why and how did shunga become increasingly acceptable in Europe and North America in the twentieth century, whilst conversely becoming unacceptable in post-Edo Japan? I discuss how and why attitudes to shunga in the UK and Japan have changed from the Edo period to the present day, and consider how definitions can affect this. My research examines how shunga has been dealt with in relation to private and institutional collecting and exhibitions. In order to gauge modern responses, the 2013 Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art exhibition at the British Museum is used as an in-depth study – utilising mixed methods and an interdisciplinary approach to analyse curatorial and legal decisions, as well as visitor feedback. To-date there are no official or standardised guidelines for the acquisition, cataloguing, or display of sexually explicit artefacts. It is intended that institutions will benefit from my analysis of the changing perceptions of shunga and of previous shunga collections and exhibitions when dealing with shunga or other sexually explicit items in the future.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: AM Museums (General). Collectors and collecting (General) ; N Visual arts (General)