Faculty: Elena Varshavskaya


An art historian of a broad profile, Elena Varshavskaya has two foci of interest – the arts of Japan with emphasis on ukiyo-e woodblock prints and the arts of Russia with the emphasis on the avant-garde movements. She has lectured widely on these and related topics. Her research has been centered on the treatment of the banned historical material in ukiyo-e prints published under the strict censorship regulations of the late Tokugawa period. To this theme she has devoted numerous articles and a monograph “Heroes of Grand Pacification” published by Brill, a leading European publishing house on oriental arts. Varshavskaya has a considerable curatorial experience, co-curating and curating exhibitions of ukiyo-e prints at the Hermitage Museum, Russia, at Springfield Museums, Massachusetts, and at the RISD Museum. As a teacher, Varshavskaya firmly believes in the ultimate value of first-hand art education and has elaborated and continues to lead art history academic courses in Russia (hosted by the Hermitage Museum) and in Japan.

Academic Research/Areas of Interest

  • Ukiyo-e woodblock prints and urban culture of Japan
  • Censorship and ukiyo-e woodblock prints
  • Musha-e: warrior genre in ukiyo-e woodblock prints
  • Warring States Period and warrior culture in Japan
  • Japonisme and Russian avant-garde painting and graphic arts
  • Nomadic art of Eurasia (Scythian and Turkic) and its repercussions in Russian avant-
    garde painting
  • Oases on the Silk Road: Buddhist art, its spread eastward and history of Russian
    excavations in the region

Elena Varshavskaya

Elena Varshavskaya

Senior Lecturer

  • MA, Herzen Pedagogical University
  • MA, The State Hermitage Museum
  • PHD, State Academy of Art, Moscow


  • HAVC-H102
  • HAVC-H591
English Foreground Image 6
Most liberal arts classes are held in RISD's College Building, a classic old multipurpose facility built in 1936.