Fosco Maraini

Fosco Maraini (1912 – 2004) was an Italian photographer, anthropologist, ethnologist, writer, mountaineer and academic.

Maraini traveled extensively in Asia and published accounts of his travels in Tibet with Tibetologist Giuseppe Tucci during two expeditions, in 1937 and again in 1948. From 1938 to 1943, Maraini lived in Japan, teaching first in Hokkaido (1938–1941) and then in Kyoto (1941–1943), conducting extensive research and collecting artefacts of the Ainu people of Hokkaidō. After the Italians signed an armistice with the allies in World War II, he was interned in a concentration camp at Nagoya for two years, from 1943 until the end of second world war.

His work as an anthropologist and ethnographer was enriched by the significant iconographic documentation that Maraini, a very gifted photographer, collected in the course of his travels. Fosco Maraini is best known for his work in Tibet, and on the Ainu, documenting two disappearing cultures, but he also photographed extensively in the Karakoram and Hindu Kush mountain ranges of Central Asia and in Southeast Asia. The anthropological and ethnological attention shown in his photographs of Asia is also evident in his visual record of Sicily, where he lived from 1946 in Bagheria with his wife, the painter Topazia Alliata. In the post-war years, the south of Italy attracted attention from artists, scientists and intellectuals owing to its seemingly unchanging character and archaic charm. Drawing on his experiences in Asia, Maraini captures the essence of southern Italy with a detached and objective approach, yet with artistic results that place him firmly within the current of neorealism.

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