Art & Design

Book Launch: Zen-Life: Ikkyu and Beyond

13 May 2014, London

By Evgeny Steiner


This book examines the Japanese culture of the Muromachi epoch (14-16 centuries) with Ikkyu Sojun (1394-1481), a celebrated monk and poet, as its focal point. Ikkyu’s contribution to the culture of his time was all-embracing and unique. He can be called the embodiment of his era, given that all the features typical for the Japanese culture of the High Middle Ages were concentrated in his personality. This multidisciplinary study of Ikkyu’s artistic, religious, and philosophical heritage reconstructs his creative mentality and his way of life. The aesthetics and art of Ikkyu are shown against a broad historical background. Much emphasis is given to Ikkyu’s interpretation of Zen. The book discusses in great detail Ikkyu’s religious and ethical principles, as well as his attitude towards sex, and shows that his rebellious and iconoclastic ways were deeply embedded in the tradition. The book pulls together materials from cultural and religious history with literary and visual artistic texts, and offers a multifaceted view on Ikkyu, as well as on the cultural life of the Muromachi period. This approach ensures that the book will be interesting for art historians, historians of literature and religion, and specialists in cultural and visual studies.



Evgeny Steiner received his PhD from the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Academy of Sciences, Moscow.


Professor Timon Screech is Professor of the History of Art and Head of the School of Arts at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He received his BA from the University of Oxford and after completing his PhD in Art History at Harvard, joined SOAS in 1991, where he was elected to a Chair in 2006.

13 May 2014, 6.00pm
Daiwa Foundation Japan House, 13/14 Cornwall Terrace, Outer Circle, London NW1 4QP

Tel:020 7486 4348

The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation