An extraordinary phtographic exhibition about the first steps of photography in Japan between 1860 and 1910 is running until April 1st in Venice. More than 150 original albumen prints are on view, showcasing a peculiar period of Japanese history.
Are you in love with the grace and sobriety of Japanese culture? Check out the photography exhibition “Japanese Photography (1860-1910) The Masterpieces” hosted by the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere e Arti in Venice, from December 17th to April 1st .
More than 150 original albumen prints are exposed, showing us a fascinating and peculiar period of Japanese history.
During the 300 years of sakoku (鎖国 closed country), any contact out of the country had been strictly limited and regulated, and now the Land of the Rising Sun is finally opening up to the world.
At the same time photography was introduced in Japan, the country was experiencing change in its political, social and economic aspects, bringing Japanese society out of feudalism and into modernity and industrialization.
European artists like Pierre Rossier, von Stillfried, Felice Beato and Guglielmo Farsari, and the first Japanese photographers, Shimooka Renjo, Ueno Hikoma, Uchida Kuichi, Yokoyama Matsusaburo, Kusabe Kinbei, witnessed the historical reality that was rapidly disappearing, and rushed to capture the exotic charm of Japanese daily life, and breathtaking nature.
They used albumen printing, the first commercially exploitable method of producing a photographic print on a paper base from a negative, invented in France in 1848, but with an innovation: the hand coloring. Applying color by hand on a black and white prints was exactly what the masters of ukiyo-e used to do.
Soft pastel colors emphazise the details of the pictures, and the subjects of ukiyo-e tradition remained unaltered, as the bijinga 美人画 (beauties) or meishoe 名所絵 (famous places).
The exhibiton illustrates with the grace and delicacy typical of Japanese art the first contacts between Japan and photography, designed to bind in an inextricable way.