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Pictures of the Floating World: New Drexel Collection Exhibit Showcases Beautiful Block-Prints from Japan

March 02, 2016

Ukiyo-e print on display in the Rincliffe Gallery

Art is transporting by its very nature, delivering us from where we stand into a world of the artist’s making. And nowhere is that more true than in The Drexel Collection’s new exhibition of 19th-century Japanese woodblock prints, also known as ukiyo-e.

Ukiyo-e is translated as “pictures of the floating word,” which is the name given to paintings and prints primarily depicting the transitory world of the Yoshiwara and the center of social life in the city Edo (present-day Tokyo) during the Edo period (1615–1868) in Japan. It is a composite term of uki (floating), yo (world), and e (pictures). Originally ukiyo-e came to refer to the sensual and hedonistic pleasures of people and detached from the world of entertainment. The prints in this exhibition represent the different styles and categories found in the collection, from actors and beauties to scenes of daily life, as you can see in the gallery of the exhibit below.

The exhibition was guest curated by Yanrong Shen ’16, a student in Drexel’s Museum Leadership program in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design.

Pictures of the Floating World: Ukiyo-e Japanese Woodblock Prints is on display in the Rincliffe Gallery on the third floor of the Main Building at 3141 Chestnut St. from Feb. 29 through May 6. The Rincliffe Gallery is open from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The gallery is free and open to the public.

 For more information, contact Lynn Clouser, assistant director of The Drexel Collection, at 215.895.2414 or

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