Although hidden from the public eye, the erotic works known as Shunga were extremely popular for centuries in Japan. The sexually explicit nature of the images was one of the reasons this exhibition could not be shown in Japan or abroad. Love letters, erotic novels, humorous poetry and kabuki theatre bring to life a world of geishas, actors and courtesans, offering a glimpse of seventeenth and eighteenth-century Japan.
This largest-ever retrospective comprises works from museums and private collections from around the world. Desire of Spring emphasises three elements typical of Shunga: eroticism, aesthetics and humour. The quality of the more than 200 selected works is exceptionally high. Several of the pieces have never been exhibited in public. The exhibition was collated by guest curator Chris Uhlenbeck.