ARTS & CULTURE
07/30/2013 07:44 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Japanese Erotic Art Goes On View At Sotheby's In 'Beyond The Paper Screen' (NSFW PHOTOS)

If you've ever wanted to get into the sexual mindset of a 17th century Japanese artist, it's time to head to Hong Kong and feast your eyes upon a deliciously naughty exhibit of traditional erotic art.

hokusai
Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), Kinoe no komatsu (Detail), 1814, Woodblock colour print book, 22.0 x 26.0 cm

Coyly titled "Beyond the Paper Screen," the Sotheby's showcase features a collection of over 60 blush-worthy prints by recognizable artists like Katsushika Hokusai and Kitagawa Utamaro. Taken together, the works explore the Edo period of Japanese art making (roughly the period between 1603 and 1868), in which pre-Modern artists delved into their sensual psyches to portray a plethora of taboo themes from polygamy to zoophilia.

The various ukiyo-e artworks on display -- including Hokusai's famous portrait of a woman being pleasured by an octopus -- are sourced from the collection of well-known antique dealer Mitsuru Uragami. As a collector, he was particularly interested in the shunga genre, or “spring pictures,” which refer to sexually explicit prints produced en masse in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

"Japanese shunga is sometimes very funny and very peaceful," Uragami explained in an interview with ARTINFO. "Those ladies’ faces look very happy, [but] it’s not only for men. It’s not like pornography. Women at the time enjoyed shunga very much."

Scroll through the slideshow below for a peek at "Beyond the Paper Screen" below. To see the real NSFW artworks in full, you'll have to catch Sotheby's exhibit before it closes on July 31 in Hong Kong, or stay tuned for another Uragami exhibit at the British Museum later this year. Let us know your thoughts on the tantalizing images in the comments.

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