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Felice Beato: A Photographer on the Eastern Road

Event Details

Felice Beato: A Photographer on the Eastern Road

Time: December 7, 2010 to April 3, 2011
Location: The Getty Center Los Angeles
Street: 1200 Getty Center Drive
City/Town: Los Angeles, California 90049
Website or Map: http://www.getty.edu/
Phone: LA: (310) 440-7300
Event Type: exhibition
Organized By: The Getty Center
Latest Activity: Dec 8, 2010

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Event Description

UPDATE: Further information on the exhibition including an interactive slide show can be found here.

Felice Beato: A Photographer on the Eastern Road examines the ways Beato tailored his images of foreign cultures to the Western audience. As Western colonial empires expanded in the second half of the nineteenth century, the market for photographs of distant lands grew dramatically. Tourists and armchair travelers who sought enrichment through reading image-laden travel diaries were Beato's primary clients. Beato's oeuvre is exceptionally diverse, including topographical and architectural views as well as portraits and costumes studies of the countries he visited or in which he resided.

Beato started to make panoramas early in his career, and they became one of his specialties. Taken from a high vantage point, they survey and document cities and landscapes in a wide, all-encompassing format. Composed of from two to eight individual prints, they required an expert command of the photographic technique. The final prints were joined together and were often inserted into albums. The process of folding and unfolding these panoramas to view them would have engaged the viewer with their impressive size and detail.

Architectural views were especially popular. Beato often included people to establish scale and create vivid, authentic-looking scenes. The sitters are typically native individuals whose expressions and postures tend to reflect the political status of their respective countries at the time.

In 1863 Beato opened a photography studio in Yokohama, Japan, where he spent more than 20 years producing the first significant series of photographs made by a Western photographer in that country. Later in life, Beato settled in Mandalay, Burma (present-day Myanmar) in 1887, where he established a photo studio and curio shop that became an attraction for foreign visitors.

During his time in Japan, one of Beato's most important innovations was the introduction of the art of coloring photographs. He used watercolor instead of oil pigments, which provided greater translucency and resulted in a subtle but vibrant colored photograph. Beato also offered the first photographic albums in the country that included scenic views and costume studies depicting Japanese domestic life. They presented an overview of Japanese culture and were sold as souvenirs to tourists.

The exhibition will include an interactive kiosk that features one of Beato's Japanese albums, which will be on display nearby. The interactive program will be on a touch table where visitors will have the opportunity to look through pages of the album and view Japanese people and customs as they were presented by Beato to 19th-century Western travelers.

After premiering at the Getty this winter, Felice Beato: A Photographer on the Eastern Road, will be on view at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Tokyo, Japan, in Spring 2012.

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