A Flirt

From the series Ten Studies in Female Physiognomy (Fujin sogaku juttai)
Edo period, 1791-1792
Woodblock print; ink, color and mica on paper
14 7/8 x 9 7/8 in. (37.8 x 25.1 cm); 1979.219



Artist Comments

Laurie Anderson
Flat as a butterfly, she's pinned to the paper. One of a collection of "types" or okubi-e ("big head pictures") she is meant to be a flirt from the ukiyo, the floating world of teahouses, brothels and Kabuki and puppet theaters. Every detail flighty: her lips a little moth, her fluttering hands fiddling with her kimono with its designs of cranes and feathers; eyebrows that float on the surface of her face like leaves that have landed on a pond. Her sensuous flesh, defined by the thinnest of lines and devoid of detail, is the color of the paper, her garments a riot of intricate design. Envisioned by an artist who loved simple rhyming lines-her shoulder and her breast; the printed feathers in her kimono and the delicate teeth of her comb. Vanity and flightiness, she turns her head.