10478 - 20170430 - Musée de l’Elysée presents first exhibition to focus on mountain photography - Lausanne - 25.01.2017-30.04.2017


John Jullien, Crossing the Sea of Ice, circa 1880 © Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne.
The exhibition Vertical No Limit. Mountain Photography, the first of its kind, is based on the premise that photography invented the mountain landscape by revealing it to the eyes of the world. Photography is heir to a certain idea of the mountains and of the sublime, closely linked to romanticism. Until the 19th century, the mountain was considered to be “God’s Country”, a cursed and surreal place, inaccessible to man. The pioneers of mountain photography made it possible to discover summits that had not yet been conquered and to transform the mountain into landscapes.

Spotlight on the museum’s collections
With almost 300 prints on view, three quarters of which are from the Musée de l’Elysée’s collections, the museum gives pride of place to images from every period, including many contemporary works. Among the works exhibited here, there are works by Gabriel Lippmann, Francis Frith, Adolphe Braun, Jules Beck, William Donkin, Emile Gos and René Burri, as well as by contemporary photograpers such as Peter Knapp, Balthasar Burkhard, Matthieu Gafsou, Pierre Vallet, Jacques Pugin, Maurice Schobinger and Iris Hutegger.

Photographic explorations
The exhibition is organized around four approaches on the theme of mountain photography:

• Scientific photography with its many prints of glaciers and that made the study of rocks and the visual documentation of geology possible;

• Travel photography, which facilitated the sale of hundreds of prints to tourists as of the 1860s;

• Mountaineering photography, revealing inaccessible mountain landscapes, and finally;

• Fine-art photography. These four approaches come together as the visitor moves through the exhibition: “The farther we are removed from the circumstances in which a photograph was taken, the more differently we interpret it”, explains Daniel Girardin.

Formal strategies and techniques used
The exhibition illustrates the formal strategies used by photographers to present the mountain: frontality, verticality, horizontality, aerial views and distance. It shows the forms imposed by the mountain such as the cone, as well as the details of the matter of which it is composed. It also highlights the technical processes used by photographers: the large formats of the 19th century, panoramas and the very big digital formats used today.

Curator: Daniel Girardin, with the assistance of Emilie Delcambre Hirsch and Maéva Besse