It looks like a classic coffee-table book, a hefty hardback of more than 500 pages and almost as many color illustrations — but be careful who you ask round for coffee if you're displaying the latest volume from the British Museum. That's because it's the lavish accompaniment to its new exhibition, "Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art." Almost every one of those hundreds of pictures, including some in glorious, meter-long fold-out, is an example of the titular Japanese erotic art of "spring pictures," or shunga.
But this book is far more than a mere museum catalogue; it both reflects and expands upon the scholarship that is evident in the exhibition itself (reviewed on Oct. 8). As well as a treat for art lovers and those interested in Japanese culture, this volume seems likely to become the standard reference work on shunga for years to come.