November 25, 2010

Japan’ Photography 1860-1910 An ineffable perfection

Ineffable Perfection. Japan’s Photography. 1860-1910
Curated by Museo delle Culture (Castagnola)
At Villa Ciani, Lugano, Switzeland
Through February 27, 2011

Photo by KUSAKABE KIMBEI, 1880

KUSAKABE KIMBEI, Woman washing her hair, 1880 ca.
Photo Courtesy of the Museo delle Culture, Castagnola


Villa Ciani plays host to Ineffable Perfection. Japan’s Photography Between 1860 and 1910. This is the largest temporary exhibition of its kind ever to be realised, worldwide. The themed path, the fruit of research carried out by the the team of the Museo delle Culture in Castagnola beginning in 2007, takes its audience on a journey of discovery into Japan's traditional image.


Photo by OGAWA KAZUMASA, 1890 

OGAWA KAZUMASA, Craftsman who makes traditional Japanese sandals (geta), 1890 ca. Photo Courtesy of the Museo delle Culture, Castagnola   


Step by step, the visitor is introduced to a more mature vision of the encounter between Japan and the West. The principle themes focus on the representation of the landscape and nature as 'educated' by culture, the importance of photographic media in the definition of Japan's image, the taste for the exotic and the deep relationship between photography and the ukiyo-e  prints. The exhibition offers a profound analysis of the works and styles of the main Japanese and European photographers who were active in the period and features a surprising exploration of the historical and anthropological dynamics of 'travel to the East' and the 'aesthetic of the souvenir'. 


Photo by KUSAKABE KIMBEI (Studio), 1880

KUSAKABE KIMBEI (Studio), Young woman reading in bed, 1880 ca.
Photo Courtesy of the Museo delle Culture, Castagnola


The photographic  albums displayed show finely lacquered and engraved covers which are, in themselves, an artistic genre of great interest. The exhibition path itself shows a particularly charming scenographic arrangement, which produces the sensation of walking through a Japanese



,RAIMUND VON STILLFRIED-RATENITZ, Sumo wrestlers and referee, 1872
Photo Courtesy of the Museo delle Culture, Castagnola


The exhibition is completed by the presence of some fifty artworks and refined objects of material culture from prestigious private collections. Among these, magnificent samurai armour from the Fifteenth Century, a group of precious sculptures of religious character, a  highly refined selection of men’s and women’s clothes and a range of sixteen extraordinary Nō theatre-masks.

Villa Ciani
Parco Ciani
CH - 6900 Lugano

Ineffabile Perfezione. La fotografia del Giappone. 1860-1910.
October 23, 2010 - February 27, 2011

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