Male. Education: University of Victoria, B.A. (history in art); University of British Columbia, M.A. (fine arts); University of Toronto, Ph.D. (East Asian studies), 1995.
(Editor) Inside the Floating World: Japanese Prints from the Lenoir C. Wright Collection (catalog), Weatherspoon Art Museum (Greensboro, NC), 2002.
(With others) Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne Van Biema Collection (catalog), University of Washington Press (Seattle, WA), 2002.
The Prints of Isoda Koryūsai: Floating-World Culture and Its Consumers in Eighteenth-Century Japan, University of Washington Press (Seattle, WA), 2003.
Allen Hockley is editor of, and contributor to, several catalogs of Japanese art, including Inside the Floating World: Japanese Prints from theLenoir C. Wright Collection. The paintings in this work depict seventeenth-and eighteenth-century Edo (now Tokyo), the pleasure quarters known as ukiyo, or "the floating world," frequented by geishas, kabuki actors, courtesans, and samurais. This catalog features one hundred woodblock prints, or ukiyo-e, by such masters as Hiroshige, Hokusai, Kunisada, Kuniyoshi, and Utamaro, who themselves were part of the floating-world culture.
Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne Van Biema Collection is a catalog of the collection that features prints depicting male kabuki actors in the parts of the heroes, heroines, and villains of Japanese myth. Collector Van Biema found the 352 prints in Kyoto, Tokyo, and Osaka. Of these, 133 are full-page color reproductions. The remainder are small monochromes. A glossary of Japanese terms is included, as are a bibliography and index. Library Journal critic David McClelland wrote that "the common thread is inventive graphic design coupled with rich coloration and dramatic action."
The Dawn of the Floating World 1650-1765: Early Ukiyo-e Treasures from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston includes a masterpiece by Kiyonobu that was first unveiled in 2001. The woodblock experiment titled "Erotic Contest of the Flowers" depicts eleven sexual scenes. This and other erotic works had been kept under wraps for nearly a century to protect Boston sensibilities, and they were borrowed by the Royal Academy of Arts in London for this exhibit. Curator Timothy Clark and others explain Kabuki and the puppet theaters, the literary arts, the cultural changes that led to this style, and how the prints were produced inexpensively enough that they were affordable to all. Of this catalog, Booklist reviewer Alice Joyce commented that "as cultural and historical documents, the Ukiyo-e woodblocks present a fascinating record of manners and mores." Interior Design reviewer Stanley Abercrombie noted, however, that the prints offer more than explicit sex, and felt that designers will be interested in the "detailed visuals of textiles, screens, furnishings, household goods, and interiors."
The Prints of Isoda Koryūsai: Floating World Culture and Its Consumers in Eighteenth-Century Japan is Hockley's study of the Edo period (1615-1867), and he uses the works of artist Isoda Koryūsai to support several of his theories. Hockley notes the difficulties in compiling a narrative for a huge body of art created by hundreds of artists over centuries because of the differing views of collectors and historians and a general lack of knowledge. He writes that Koryūsai and the more highly regarded Suzuki Harunobu, who have been seen as student and teacher respectively, were actually engaged in similar pursuits, satisfying the demands of eighteenth-century Japanese consumers. Library Journal reviewer Nadine Dalton Speidel wrote that Hockley "states that Koryūsai combined predictable and innovative elements in a way that was a harbinger of pop culture as we know it."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Theatre, January, 2004, Randy Gener, review of Inside the Floating World: Japanese Prints from the Lenoir C. Wright Collection.
Booklist, May 15, 2002, Alice Joyce, review of The Dawn of the Floating World, 1650-1765: Early Ukiyo-e Treasures from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, p. 1565.
Choice, July, 2002, S. C. Scott, review of The Dawn of the Floating World; April, 2003, J. O. Caswell, review of Japanese Prints in the Anne Van Biema Collection.
Interior Design, March, 2002, Stanley Abercrombie, review of The Dawn of the Floating World, 1650-1765, p. 121.
Library Journal, March 15, 2002, Nadine Dalton Speidel, review of The Dawn of the Floating World, p. 75; December, 2002, David McClelland, review of Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints in the Anne van Biema Collection, p. 121; May 1, 2003, Nadine Dalton Speidel, review of The Prints of Isoda Koryūsai: Floating-World Culture and Its Consumers in Eighteenth-Century Japan, p. 110.
New York Times Book Review, December 8, 2002, Christopher Benfey, review of The Dawn of the Floating World, p. 20.*