The Prints of Isoda Koryusai

by ThingsAsian Booklist, May 3, 2004 | Destinations: Japan / Tokyo

The Prints of Isoda Koryusai, Floating World Culture and its Consumers in Eighteenth-Century Japan, by Allen Hockley, University of Washington Press, 2003.

Title: The Prints of Isoda Koryusai, Floating World Culture and its Consumers in Eighteenth-Century Japan.

Author: Allen Hockley.

Publisher: University of Washington Press (2003)

ISBN: 0295983019.

Details: hardcover, 6 1/4" x 9 1/2", 313 pages, b/w and color photos.

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From the book jacket:

The ukiyo-e artist Isoda Koryusai produced thousands of designs between 1769 and 1781, a crucial period in the evolution of the print tradition, and was honored with the imperial title of hokkyo, yet he has been long neglected by scholars. Allen Hockley has identified more than 2,500 designs of wide-ranging formats and themes, demonstrating that Koryusai broadened the treatment of traditional print subjects and appealed to a wider and more varied audience. Koryusai's sheer output suggests he may very well be the most productive artist of the eighteenth century.

Refuting outmoded paradigms of connoisseurship and challenging the assumptions of conventional print scholarship, Hockley elevates this important figure from the status of a minor Edo-period artist. He argues that Koryusai excelled by the most significant measure - he was a highly successful creator of popular commodities. Employing an "active audience" model, Hockley reshapes the study of ukiyo-e as a scholarly discipline by assessing Koryusai's significance from the perspective of consumer culture.

While scholars will be intrigued by Hockley's groundbreaking arguments, general readers will be fascinated by Koryusai's richly varied career. Five appendixes catalog all of the artist's known print designs, forming a record of Koryusai's works that will serve as a lasting reference text for collectors, dealers, and curators.

About the Author:

Allen Hockley is associate professor of art history at Dartmouth College.

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