Discover the museum's exhibitions

23 October 2010 - 27 February 2011, Villa Ciani - Lugano

Ineffabile perfezione. La fotografia del Giappone. 1860-1910


Also exhibited: 

  • 16 th December 2011 - 1 April 2012, Palazzo Franchetti, Venezia, with the title "Fotografia del Giappone. Capolavori. 1860-1910".
  • 22 April - 3 June 2012, Museo Pignatelli, Napoli, with the title "Fotografia del Giappone (1860-1910). I capolavori". 

Foto gallery

The exhibition

The temporary exhibition entitled "Ineffabile perfezione. La fotografia del Giappone. 1860-1910" is part of the unique project "Nippon. Tra mito e realtà". The project is sponsored by the City of Lugano and encompasses the entire city, starting in its most prestigious exhibition centres and offering an exhibition route that investigates the most interesting aspects of art and photography from the mid-nineteenth century to the present time, as well as the ancient traditions of Japan.

The exhibition is displayed in the Villa Ciani and constitutes the fifth stage of the Esovisioni exhibition cycle. It ideally represents the starting point for the wider ‘Nippon’ itinerary and intends to guide the visitor beyond the stereotypes of Exoticism and Japonism, focusing rather on a vision of the profound ideological and cultural interactions that took place in the encounters between Japan and the West.

The exhibition was supervised by Marco Fagioli and Francesco Paolo Campione (MCL director), and is co-produced by Giunti Arte Mostre Musei and the Museo delle Culture of Lugano. It displays over 200 photographs (mainly albumin prints, painted by hand with watercolours) of the greatest photographers of the late nineteenth century. The photographs are from a private collection, which is considered to be the largest collection of its kind the world, and are owned by a passionate collector. 

"Ineffabile perfezione" presents some masterpieces of one of the most important chapters in the history of photography. It encourages visitors to discover the various themes of Japanese art and culture, precisely at a time when Japan was emerging from a three hundred-year-old isolation. Japan was therefore opening up to the West, influencing modernity with the images and expressions of its creativity. 

The exhibition is organised into various sections and investigates the representation of  landscapes and nature guided by culture, the taste of Exoticism and the profound link between photography and ukiyo-e prints.  These prints depict women as beings of sublime beauty, in the middle of household and agricultural activities, as well as women of pleasure. The exhibition acknowledges the works of Yokohama’s school masters, such as Felice Beato, Raimund von Stillfried-Ratenicz, Kusakabe Kimbei, Ogawa Kazumasa and Tamamura Kozaburo. 
The exhibition includes photographic equipment of the nineteenth century, sixty artworks and some fine objects of material culture stemming from prestigious private collections: a wonderful Samurai suit of armour of the sixteenth century, valuable religious sculptures, a refined selection of masculine and women’s clothes, and an extraordinary selection of sixteen Nô theatre masks. 
The exhibition catalogue is on sale at the Museum’s bookshop.  There are also several guided tours and activities that provide a thorough explanation of the exhibition’s themes.

For further information:

Ineffabile perfezione. La fotografia del Giappone. 1860-1910

a cura di Francesco Paolo Campione & Marco Fagioli
Giunti, Firenze 2010, 367 pp.
Esovisioni 5
Chf 50.-
ISBN 978-88-09-74994-