Throughout many cultures around the world, artists have portrayed erotic themes in paintings, drawings, and sculptures for many centuries. One of the most recognizable erotic art styles is shunga, a Japanese subgenre of the ukiyo-e movement of the 17th through 19th centuries. Shunga was traditionally crafted on woodblocks, however, some historians have found handpainted scrolls that predate the Edo-period.
Shunga frequently portrayed the contemporary urban class—which included townsmen, merchants, artisans, and farmers. However, courtesans were one of the most popular subjects and artist Kitagawa Utamaro was known for supplying this fantasy. And while most shunga art depicts heterosexual couples, many works depicted male-on-male intimacy. Shunga helped inspire more modern forms of Japanese art, including hentai, which is pornography depicted in anime and manga.
Many contemporary artists and collectors have taken inspiration from shunga, replicating the style and subject matter into permanent tattoos. We've found some of the best examples of shunga transformed into body art and it's time you took a look.