Art and Artifice: Japanese Photographs Of The Meiji Era

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9780878466825: Art and Artifice: Japanese Photographs Of The Meiji Era

With the influx of Westerners to Japan during the Meiji period (1868-1912) came the rise of the Japanese photo industry. Originally created as souvenirs for foreign travelers, these images soon came to act as a prepackaged guide: Before long, the tourist's first stop in Japan was the photographer's studio, where he ordered the handsomely-made photo album that would help set his itinerary. But more than this, these photographs reveal an astounding virtuosity, not only in composition but also in the technique of color retouching, which brought these views of daily life, splendid gardens, bustling cityscapes and theatrical performances to a new level of vividness. Blatantly artificial, these photographs also convey a true and resonant picture of Japanese society at the dawn of the modern age. Art and Artifice: Japanese Photographs of the Meiji Era provides a brief, elegant introduction to Meiji-era photographs and to the world in which it flourished. In three essays and dozens of images, it explores the social function of these photos and their remarkable artistry, the practicalities of transpacific travel at the turn of the century, and the personal stories of those who collected and preserved these images--leaving us with a privileged glimpse into this pivotal moment in Japanese cultural history and the history of photography.

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