Yokohama 1868–1912: When Pictures Learned to Shine

8 October 2016 – 28 May 2017


Yokohama is, symbolically speaking, where Japanese modernism began and the country first opened up to the world.

The first photo studios were founded in Yokohama around 1860 during the period of economic collapse at the end of the Edo period. The pioneers of Japanese photography initially availed themselves of the cliché of a naively exotic image of Japan. As time went on, however, they subtly departed from that aesthetic with masterfully composed motifs and a style of their own. As the new image technologies gained currency, the interest in the traditional craft of the Ukiyo-e woodblock print began to fade; around 1900 the old art form sprouted one last bizarre blossom in the form of war propaganda before disappearing almost entirely. In juxtaposition, the capricious epilogue of the Ukiyo-e and the concurrent rise of Japanese photography offer surprising insights into a country undergoing radical change.

Curator: Dr Stephan von der Schulenburg

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With kind support from

Metzler Bank
Metzler Bank
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