Elena Varshavskaya

An art historian with a broad profile, Elena Varshavskaya has two main interests: the arts of Japan with an emphasis on ukiyo-e woodblock prints and wide-ranging, cross-cultural influences in Eurasia. She has lectured widely on these and related topics. Her research has been centered on 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 considerable curatorial experience, co-curating and curating exhibitions of ukiyo-e prints at the Hermitage Museum, Russia; Springfield Museum, Massachusetts; and the RISD Museum, by herself and together with her students. As a teacher, Varshavskaya firmly believes in the ultimate value of first-hand art history education. She regularly teaches ukiyo-e curatorial courses in collaboration with the RISD Museum and for many years has led art history travel courses to Russia (hosted by the Hermitage Museum) and Japan, recently adding Central Asia as a new destination.

Academic 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
  • Nomadic art of Eurasia (Scythian and Turkic) 
  • Oases on the Silk Road: Buddhist art, its spread eastward and history of excavations in the region

Fall 2022

THAD-8900-02 THAD Independent Study
THAD-H791-01 Ukiyo-e Prints

Wintersession 2023

THAD-W240-01 Arts Of Japan: Introduction

Spring 2023

THAD-H255-01 Buddhist Art At The RISD Museum: Learning From Objects
THAD-H454-01 Russian Art and Design
THAD-H791-01 Ukiyo-e Prints
RISD faculty member Elena Varshavskaya
  • Elena Varshavskaya’s CV
  • MA, Herzen Pedagogical University
  • MA, The State Hermitage Museum
  • PHD, State Academy of Art, Moscow