Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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Image of Black Shunga 30069


Chris Ofili (Manchester, England, 10/10/1968 - )


Black Shunga

Creation Date



early 21st century


26 7/16 x 17 1/2 in. (67.15 x 44.45 cm)

Object Type


Creation Place

Europe, United Kingdom

Medium and Support

line etching on paper

Credit Line

Museum Purchase, Barbara Cooney Porter Fund


This artwork may be under copyright. For further information, please consult the Museum’s Copyright Terms and Conditions.

Accession Number

In the Black Shunga etchings, lush azure and Prussian blue pigments swirl, pool, and bleed like water stains or cloud formations, evoking a range of settings—a nocturnal jungle, the depth of the ocean—all of which are enhanced by the underlayer of color-shifting metallic powder. Barely perceptible sinuous linework is printed over the expanse of blue. The viewer is compelled to look more closely and slowly as the silvery lines resolve into contours of figures engaged in a variety of intimate sexual acts. This imagery and the title of the suite refer to Japanese shunga-e, erotic woodblock prints made primarily in the Edo period (1615–1868). The addition of “Black” to “Shunga” in the title point to both the stereotyped exoticism of black bodies and the absence of black figures in the canon of Western art, as well as the more generalized lack of acknowledgment experienced by black populations in many of the societies in which they live. Shelley R. Langdale Curator & Head of Modern Prints and Drawings, National Gallery of Art, and President, Print Council of America

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