zaterdag 21 oktober 2017

Views & Reviews Hunter Daido Moriyama The Japanese Photobook 1912–1990 Photography


Daido Moriyama “Hunter”
Retail price: ¥150,000-, Published by Chuokoronsha (1972)
Hardcover, H26.5 x W21.9 cm
Texts include; essay by Tadanori Yokoo, text by Shoji Yamagishi (English and Japanese)


"From pictorialism to Provoke: the most extensive history of Japanese photobooks ever published" Among others the over 500 pages counting book features such renowned photographers as Yoshio Watanabe, Akira Hoshi, Hayao Yoshikawa, Shinichi Kato, Yasuo Wakuda, Tetsuo Kitahara, Moriyama Daido, Koji Taki, Takuma Nakahira, Yutaka Takanashi, Kimura Ihei, Hamaya, Katura, Kazano, Kikuti, Mituzumi, Watanabe, Yamahata, Sozo Okada and Kazano Karuo, among many others. -- "'The Japanese Photobook, 1912–1980' illustrates the development of photography as seen in photo publications in Japan—from the time of influence by European and American pictorialism, the German Bauhaus and Imperial military propaganda, to the complete collapse and destruction of the country in 1945. Then followed a new beginning: with the unique self-determination of a young generation of photographers and visual artists highlighted by the “Provoke” style as well as protest and war documentation of the late 1950s to the early ’70s, the signature Japanese photobook, as we have come to know it, was born.

With detailed information and illustrations of over 400 photo publications, an introduction by Kaneko Ryuichi and essays by Fujimura Satomi, Duncan Forbes, Manfred Heiting, Mitsuda Yuri, Lizawa Kotaro, Shirayama Mari and Matthew S. Witkovsky, this is the first extensive English-language survey of Japanese photobooks of this period." (publisher's note)

About the main author:
Ryuichi Kaneko is a critic, historian, and collector of photobooks. He has authored or contributed to numerous publications, including 'Independent Photographers in Japan 1976–83' (Tokyo Shoseki, 1989), 'The History of Japanese Photography' (Yale University Press and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2003), 'Japanese Photobooks of the 1960s and ’70s' (Aperture, 2009), and 'Japan’s Modern Divide' (J. Paul Getty Museum)


Review: Karyudo (A Hunter) by Daido Moriyama (Kodansha reissue) by By Joerg Colberg 
May 25, 2012 


May 9th, 2017

The Endless Outer World

Daido Moriyama speaks about his Provoke days and capturing the streets of Tokyo.

By Tsuyoshi Ito

Daido Moriyama, from the series Hunter, 1972 © Daido Moriyama Photo Foundation

By the time Daido Moriyama joined the magazine Provoke for its second issue, he had already perfected the art of the accidental image. Embodying the revolutionary spirit of this late-’60s collective, Moriyama has since become one of the world’s most recognized photographers. His blurry, angular photographs of Tokyo’s Shinjuku district challenged conventional notions of photography. Moriyama’s early mentors included the legendary photographers Shomei Tomatsu and Eikoh Hosoe, but it was Takuma Nakahira who proved to be his greatest collaborator and closest friend. Decades on, Moriyama has continued to photograph Toyko’s streets using a small, handheld camera, inspiring generations of image makers. Tsuyoshi Ito of A/fixed spoke with Moriyama about his time with Provoke.

Daido Moriyama, from the series Hunter, 1972 © Daido Moriyama Photo Foundation

Tsuyoshi Ito: What drew you to participating in Provoke in the first place?

Daido Moriyama: Takuma Nakahira invited me after the first volume had already been released. Without his invitation to join, I likely would not have been involved. We were best friends and I had a great fondness for him. So rather than being interested in Provoke itself, it was more of an interest in him that made me want to join.

Ito: What was the energy like when you joined for the second issue of Provoke?

Moriyama: Provoke was a lot of fun. Everyone had the similar ideologies about photography, but the way each person expressed it was very different so we all stimulated each other. Since Provoke came at the end of the ’60s, much of it was very political. I had no interest or opinion about politics, so I did not partake in political movements and demonstrations. I focused instead on the need to reform photography. Provoke provided me with comrades.

Daido Moriyama, from the series Hunter, 1972 © Daido Moriyama Photo Foundation

Ito: How did you get acquainted with Nakahira?

Moriyama: I met Nakahira when he was still an editor working for Shomei Tomatsu, so it was through Tomatsu’s projects that I was introduced to him. Compared to me, Nakahira had an opposite stance on things. Rather than seeing him as a charismatic photographer, I saw him as my only rival and also my only true friend. Never, before or after him, have I had a relationship like that with anyone else. So I thought that if I were doing something with him, then surely it was going to be fun.

Ito: How was it working with Yutaka Takanashi, one of the other key figures behind the magazine?

Moriyama: It was not a daily occurrence for us to see or hang around each other. Our ideologies on photography were also slightly off, but at the root we had a sense of consciousness of each other’s work that tied us all together.

Daido Moriyama, from the series Hunter, 1972 © Daido Moriyama Photo Foundation

Ito: What was your reaction to Provoke breaking up after the third issue?

Moriyama: When the members of Provoke got together to discuss disbanding, I was the only one who was against it. I questioned why we were doing such a thing because we hadn’t accomplished anything yet. I understand now that perhaps we had reached our limit, but at the time that reason did not satisfy me. It made me question what three volumes were going to accomplish and what it could possibly provoke. But as I said earlier, I got to spend time in meetings with people I had never worked with, and being exposed to them was very stimulating. I am still in the mindset of my Provoke days.

Daido Moriyama, from the series Light and Shadow, 1982 © Daido Moriyama Photo Foundation

Ito: You mentioned that you got your start in graphic design. What kind of relationship does that discipline have to photography?

Moriyama: When I was younger I did not think about what graphic design had taught me, but as I grew older I realized that it was actually very important. This was particularly clear during the construction of a photography book. It made me realize that there was a part of me that was still curious about design. There is part of me that wants to create something for the graphic aesthetics, rather than for the story. Being exposed to graphic design from countries such as America at a young age played a major role in shaping my photography.

Daido Moriyama, from the series Light and Shadow, 1982 © Daido Moriyama Photo Foundation

Ito: Shinjuku was the center of Japanese arts culture in the 1960s. Did you enjoy being part of its atmosphere and people?

Moriyama: In the ’60s, there were diverse people in Shinjuku, but I was never one to hang around with many people. Shinjuku was a labyrinth, and what it had to offer meshed very well with my personality. It was a center of chaos that was both stimulating and fun. As a street photographer, I was trying to capture the people and the distinctiveness of the time, but simultaneously it was the city itself that was my focal point. In the end, I was trying to capture an essence of myself. All photographers, no matter what their concept, are all just trying to photograph themselves in a sense.

Daido Moriyama, from the series Dog and Mesh Tights, 2015 © Daido Moriyama Photo Foundation

Ito: How do you view the importance of the photography book?

Moriyama: Books are essential to photographers. I do not go out to shoot with the thought of finding material for my next book. I travel streets to find reality. I still have moments when I’m photographing and wondering why I’m taking pictures and what they mean to me. As a result, my photography books turn into a jigsaw puzzle. But unlike a normal puzzle, there is no completion to my works; they do not perfectly fit together. For me, that is what a photography book is. There’s no such thing as completion; rather, the last puzzle piece is contemplation about the next book to come. The process of asking myself questions of why I do what I do is the process of making books. Each book has no correlating theme; it just captures the endless outer world.

Tsuyoshi Ito is founder and managing editor of A/fixed, a leading resource on the history of Japanese photography.

A/fixed’s inaugural publication, Provoke Generation: Japanese Photography, ’60s-’70s is now available.



ZONDAG, JULI 16, 2006

Daido Moriyama

De Tweede Wereldoorlog, de jaren erna onder Amerikaanse bezetting in een land dat naarstig op zoek was naar een eigen identiteit en het enorme tempo waarmee het van oudsher gesloten, traditionele Japanse volk de 21ste eeuw in werd gekatapulteerd, het moet voor Daido Moriyama (1938) een onthechtende periode zijn geweest. De Amerikaanse aanwezigheid zal hem voor het leven beïnvloeden. In 1960 ziet hij “New York”, het boek van William Klein. Net als Klein heeft Moriyama eerst voor grafisch vormgever gestudeerd, voor hij de overstap naar fotografie maakt. En net als Klein zal hij fotoboeken als het meest effectieve medium beschouwen om zijn beelden onder de aandacht te brengen. Over een periode van veertig jaar publiceert Moriyama een veertigtal boeken, in 1999 zelfs vijf achter elkaar.

Moriyama’s tweede boek – “Shashin yo Sayonara” (1972), dat afwisselend als “Bye Bye Photography Dear” en “Farewell Photography” vertaald wordt – is een van de meest extreme fotoboeken die ooit werden uitgegeven. Moriyama morrelt aan de vorm van de fotografische sequentie en aan de fotografie zelf en duwt die over de grenzen van leesbaarheid. Alle normen en waarden op het gebied van fotografische technieken worden opzij geschoven. De foto’s lijken gedrukt van afgekeurde negatieven, opgevist uit de prullenbak in de donkere kamer. Ze lijken afkomstig van de beginopnames van een nieuw fotorolletje, als er zonder te kijken op willekeurige objecten wordt ingesteld om de film naar het eerste beeld te transporteren. Of van de eindopnames, wanneer er nog net ruimte voor een half beeld over is. Moriyama’s fotografisch vocabulaire is er een van onscherpte, van beweging, van krassen, vals licht, vlekken en stof. “Shashin yo Sayonara” is een mijlpaal in de geschiedenis van het fotoboek. Moriyama reikt voorbij de grenzen van de fotografie en schept daarmee een van de meest radicale expressievormen die ook dertig jaar later nog staat als een huis. Moriyama’s derde boek, “Karyudo” (Hunter) draagt hij op aan Jack Kerouac en de beeldtaal wedijvert met de associatieve, razendsnelle schrijfstijl van Kerouacs bijbel van de beatnikgeneratie, “On The Road”. Reizend door Japan fotografeert Moriyama uit rijdende auto’s en treinen, de sluiter bedienend alsof het de trekker van een wapen is en de camera ladend met Tri-X films alsof het patronen zijn. De werkelijkheid is zijn prooi. Hij geeft zichzelf geen tijd om te denken en vertrouwt op zijn instincten en reflexen. De beelden hebben hoge contrasten en zijn grofkorrelig, het onderwerp is de gruizige, zwarte ziel van een in toenemende mate veramerikaniserend naoorlogs Japan.

De Zweedse fotograaf Anders Petersen (“Café Lehmitz”) is een bewonderaar van Moriyama. “Hij is afschuwelijk en daar hou ik van. Hij heeft een obsessie. Hij is opgefokt. Hij is wanhopig. Ik ben ook altijd op zoek naar dat gevoel. Het is de wanhoop waardoor je in beweging blijft. Daar gaat het om als je fotografeert. Je moet zo dicht op het moment en je emoties zitten dat het pijn doet. Dan ben je op je sterkst. En op een bepaalde manier moet je gevaarlijk zijn. Je moet ergens doorheen breken. Daido Moriyama, die is gevaarlijk.”

Na “Shashin yo Sayonara” en “Karyudo” heeft Moriyama een kleine twee jaar geen camera meer aangeraakt, een enkele, zeldzame opdracht daargelaten. Hij werd gekweld door een ondragelijk gevoel van onbehagen, een onbeschrijfelijk besef van machteloosheid. Hij is zijn geloof in schoonheid, in de mensheid kwijt.

Samen met Nobuyoshi Araki wandelde Moriyama in augustus 2004 door Shinjuku, een drukke stadswijk van Tokio, op de grens van het zakencentrum en de rosse buurt. Deze smeltkroes van culturen en activiteiten is een van de favoriete locaties voor Moriyama. Met meer dan twee miljoen treinreizigers per dag is het station van Shinjuku het drukste van Japan. “Ik moet agressief zijn om foto’s te maken in Shinjuku,” zegt Moriyama die per dag moeiteloos twintig rolletjes kleinbeeld door zijn Ricoh GR1s jaagt. Het resultaat van de wandeling was een dubbeltentoonstelling, “Moriyama-Shinjuku-Araki”. En of Moriyama voor een stijlaanpassing koos die als een commentaar op het werk van Araki kan worden uitgelegd, of dat het de leeftijd is, in vergelijking met “Shashin yo Sayonara” is het nieuwe werk van Moriyama toegankelijker dan voorheen. Hij concentreert zich niet meer uitsluitend op de kille, diepduistere krochten van het menselijk bestaan. Er zit meer detaillering in zijn foto’s en de ergste ruwheid is eraf. Die nieuwe helderheid zou op een meer afgewogen visie kunnen duiden van een rijpere kunstenaar. Maar Moriyama’s oog is nog altijd even opmerkzaam.

©Pim Milo, 2006

Als een hond door de grote stad
Daido Moriyama, een van de belangrijkste naoorlogse Japanse fotografen, exposeert in Amsterdam. De man die beroemd werd met grofkorrelige zwart-witfoto’s, zwerft het liefst door de stad. Hij werkt nu ook met een digitale camera en zelfs met kleur. „Mijn manier van werken is niet veranderd, de stad wel.”
 Tracy Metz
 25 mei 2012

‘Tights’
Image Daido Moriyama, courtesy Reflex Gallery 

De Japanse fotograaf Daido Moriyama was al boven de zeventig toen hij voor het eerst met een digitale camera ging werken. Een fabrikant bood hem er een aan toen hij drie jaar geleden aan een nieuw project begon, een diepgaand portret van Tokio in twee delen. Twee weken geleden verscheen het eerste deel en het is niet minder dan een revolutie in het werk van deze invloedrijke en productieve fotograaf. Niet alleen is het digitaal, maar ook nog in kleur. Kleur! Terwijl Moriyama, een van de bekendste naoorlogse fotografen van Japan, juist de grove, grafische zwart-witkorrel tot zijn handelsmerk heeft gemaakt.

De 74-jarige Moriyama was onlangs kort in Nederland voor de opening van zijn expositie Journey for something bij de Amsterdamse Reflex Gallery en de presentatie van het gelijknamige boek.

Snel en intuïtief grijpt Moriyama taferelen vast uit het dagelijks leven zoals dat toevallig aan zijn ogen voorbij rolt. Zijn onderwerp is vaak het grotestadsgevoel – energiek, anoniem, raadselachtig, vaak met een verscholen belofte erin alsof er iets staat te gebeuren. Een rennend, dus onscherp kind op straat; nat plaveisel met de weerspiegeling van koplampen; een straathond; mooie billen en benen in netkousen; een meute overstekende voetgangers op het brede zebrapad in de uitgaanswijk Shinjuku in Tokio, een foto die met zijn sterke diagonale zwarte en witte lijnen wat weg heeft van een houtsnede.

Dit najaar brengt Tate Modern in Londen het werk van Moriyama samen met dat van de tien jaar oudere Amerikaans-Franse fotograaf William Klein, eveneens chroniqueur van het straatleven. „Wij kennen elkaar niet”, zegt Moriyama via een tolk, „maar hij is voor mij altijd een bron van inspiratie geweest. Amerika is sinds de oorlog ook altijd prominent aanwezig geweest in het dagelijks leven in Japan.”

Hij was 33 en maakte al in Japan furore toen hij voor het eerst naar Amerika ging. Hij sprak geen woord Engels en liep een maand lang met zijn camera in de hand door New York. „Als een hond”, zegt hij „mijn neus achterna” (een van de ruim 75 boeken die hij door de jaren heen heeft gepubliceerd, heet ‘Memories of a Dog’). New York maakte diepe indruk en de foto’s die hij toen maakten keren telkens terug in zijn boeken en tentoonstellingen, nu ook bij Reflex.

„Een paar jaar daarna heb ik er een performance in Tokio meegedaan. Ik wilde als fotograaf iets nieuws doen, niet weer gewoon wat afdrukken aan de muur hangen. Dus heb ik foto’s van New York onder het kopieerapparaat gelegd en twee verschillende omslagen gezeefdrukt. Bezoekers konden hun eigen fotoboek samenstellen en ook het omslag kiezen.” Die performance heeft hij vorig jaar in de New Yorkse fotogalerie Aperture herhaald en dat doet hij dit najaar ook in de Tate Modern.

Reflex heeft één wand gevuld met grote afdrukken van een aantal belangrijke beelden uit het reusachtige oeuvre van de Japanner. Natuurlijk zijn daar de stadsbeelden bij, zoals een schitterende nachtfoto van de verlichte gebouwen van New York en het interieur van een theater in Buenos Aires, maar één is totaal anders. Het is een foetus, op de rug gezien, liggend op tapijt. In het boek is er nog een opgenomen, nu in het gezicht gezien. „Dit was mijn eerste werk als zelfstandige fotograaf, uit 1964”, vertelt Moriyama. „Als kind had ik gelezen hoe de mens zich voor de geboorte ontwikkelt en dat wilde ik graag in het echt zien. Het heeft moeite gekost om een ziekenhuis te vinden dat bereid was de foetussen te laten fotograferen die ze op sterk water hebben staan, maar uiteindelijk is het gelukt. Deze serie was de enige keer dat ik als een studiofotograaf te werken ging, met een achtergronddoek en uitgekiende verlichting. Nu weet ik; dit is het begin, die is de essentie van de mens. En daarna ben ik de straat opgegaan.”

Moriyama loopt nog steeds het liefst op straat. Met zijn nieuwe digitale camera maakte hij 30.000 beelden van zijn woonplaats. „Mijn manier van werken is niet veranderd”, zegt hij, „maar de stad wel. Hier in Europa waar alles heel lang hetzelfde blijft is het misschien moeilijk je voor te stellen hoe snel Tokio verandert. Zo zijn er bijvoorbeeld geen zwerfhonden meer.”

Deel één van het nieuwe boek heet Color. Maar Moriyama verloochent zijn geliefde medium niet: voor het tweede deel heeft hij uit dezelfde 30.000 beelden een andere selectie gemaakt die in zwart-wit is afgedrukt. Dat boek verschijnt later dit jaar en heet simpelweg Monochrome.












Karyudo (A Hunter) [reissue], photographs by Daido Moriyama, 192 pages, Kodansha, 2011











donderdag 19 oktober 2017

Views & Reviews Someday Somewhere Yasuhiro ISHIMOTO The Japanese Photobook 1912–1990 Photography


Aruhi Arutokoro. (Someday, Somewhere).
ISHIMOTO, Yasuhiro.
Published by Geibi Shuppan., Tokyo., 1958
4to. (285 x 233 mm). pp. 168. With 7 colour & 178 black-and-white photographs including various gatefolds and fold-outs. Publisher's black cloth, yellow spine and printed dust-jacket. Ishimoto was born in San Francisco, then moved to Japan with his parents in 1924 before returning to the States in 1939. Following internment in the war, during which he learned photography, he studied under Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind at the Chicago Institute of Design, graduating in 1952. He returned to Japan in 1953, but continued to travel between the two countries. Thus his work is an interesting and distinctive blend of cultural influences, neither wholly Japanese nor wholly American in style. In 1958 he had the distinction of producing the first major postwar Japanese photobook, the elegant Aruhi Arutokoro (Someday, Somewhere), shot in both Tokyo and Chicago. 'Aruhi Arutokoro is a photobook of truly international stature, providing Japanese photographers with a model of expression that transcended both the parochial and the purely documentary tendency dominating Japanese photography of the time.' (Martin Parr). [Parr & Badger, The Photobook I, pp. 272-273; Kaneko & Vartanian - Japanese Photobooks of the 1960s and '70s, pp.


"From pictorialism to Provoke: the most extensive history of Japanese photobooks ever published" Among others the over 500 pages counting book features such renowned photographers as Yoshio Watanabe, Akira Hoshi, Hayao Yoshikawa, Shinichi Kato, Yasuo Wakuda, Tetsuo Kitahara, Moriyama Daido, Koji Taki, Takuma Nakahira, Yutaka Takanashi, Kimura Ihei, Hamaya, Katura, Kazano, Kikuti, Mituzumi, Watanabe, Yamahata, Sozo Okada and Kazano Karuo, among many others. -- "'The Japanese Photobook, 1912–1980' illustrates the development of photography as seen in photo publications in Japan—from the time of influence by European and American pictorialism, the German Bauhaus and Imperial military propaganda, to the complete collapse and destruction of the country in 1945. Then followed a new beginning: with the unique self-determination of a young generation of photographers and visual artists highlighted by the “Provoke” style as well as protest and war documentation of the late 1950s to the early ’70s, the signature Japanese photobook, as we have come to know it, was born.

With detailed information and illustrations of over 400 photo publications, an introduction by Kaneko Ryuichi and essays by Fujimura Satomi, Duncan Forbes, Manfred Heiting, Mitsuda Yuri, Lizawa Kotaro, Shirayama Mari and Matthew S. Witkovsky, this is the first extensive English-language survey of Japanese photobooks of this period." (publisher's note)

About the main author:
Ryuichi Kaneko is a critic, historian, and collector of photobooks. He has authored or contributed to numerous publications, including 'Independent Photographers in Japan 1976–83' (Tokyo Shoseki, 1989), 'The History of Japanese Photography' (Yale University Press and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2003), 'Japanese Photobooks of the 1960s and ’70s' (Aperture, 2009), and 'Japan’s Modern Divide' (J. Paul Getty Museum)

See also 

Five Aspects of Japanese Photobooks Ryuichi Kaneko Photobook Phenomenon


Yasuhiro Ishimoto (1921-2012): The “ Visual Bilinguist” in Japanese and American Postwar Photography
Posted on March 7, 2012 by Russet Lederman

On February 6, 2012, it was announced primarily through blogs, Facebook and Tumblr that Japanese photographer Yasuhiro Ishimoto died at the age of 90. The only mainstream US news organization to run a story on Ishimoto was CNN via its photography blog. As an important link in the postwar dialogue between Japan and America, Ishimoto was, according to Minor White, “a visual bilinguist” – a photographer who was uniquely positioned due to his birth and education to act as the cultural liaison between two highly distinctive photography cultures. Despite his crucial role as both an advisor to and photographer in numerous exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago, Ishimoto’s death was largely ignored in the American press and sadly unnoticed by most in the western photographic community. This is a shame because Ishimoto was a remarkably talented photographer whose work merged a western formalist approach, learned under Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind at the Chicago Institute of Design, with a Japanese attention to subtle beauty. He was a “photographer’s photographer” — a friend who selflessly supported his colleagues in both the east and west as he acted as an aesthetic and cultural translator in an exchange that still continues today.


When over a year ago I undertook to explore the Japanese photobook collection at the International Center of Photography Library, the very first book I pulled out of the stacks was Ishimoto’s Someday, Somewhere / Aru Hi, Aru Tokoro (1958). The copy that I held in my hands that day was not a pristine edition that would be found in a photobook collector’s bookshelf. It was a well-worn book whose pages had been repeatedly turned and scrutinized over years by ICP staff members, students and teachers. It simultaneously spoke to Ishimoto’s role as a “photographer’s photographer” and the mission of the ICP Library as a resource for “information and inspiration to anyone interested in the medium [of photography].” The last time I had held this book was at a bookseller’s tiny shop in Osaka, Japan. To see it in New York and so readily available was a nice affirmation that, despite diminished visibility in recent years, students, teachers and scholars still regularly sought out his work.


Ishimoto’s life continually moved back and forth between the U.S. and Japan. (A February 2012 post by Richard Pare in the blog La Lettre de la Photographie provides a wonderful and detailed biographical overview.) Born in San Francisco in 1921, while his father was employed in the U.S., Ishimoto returned to Japan in 1924 and spent the rest of his childhood in the Kochi Prefecture on the island of Shikoku. In 1939 his family sent him back to the U.S. to study agriculture in California. Two years later, America entered WWII and Ishimoto was relocated to the Amache Internment camp in Colorado, where he first developed an interest in photography. Upon his release, he enrolled in Northwestern University’s School of Architecture, but quickly realized that his central focus was photography, not architecture. Ishimoto transferred to the Chicago Institute of Design (New Bauhaus), which was led by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. Advocating a new photography of “seeing while moving,” Moholy-Nagy’s curriculum emphasized the formal aspects of the pictorial space and had a profound influence on Ishimoto’s distinctive east-west aesthetic that reinterpreted traditional Japanese culture through the lens of modernism.


It is this visual sensibility that unifies the seemingly diverse subjects in Ishimoto photography, a range which includes: architecturally focused images of an early 17th century imperial villa in Katsura: Tradition and Creation in Japanese Architecture (1960); identity as explored in the provocatively posed precocious Lolitas and the urban scenes of African Americans in his Chicago, Chicago (1969); graphic and textural studies of signage, defaced facades and nature in his Someday, Somewhere / Aru Hi, Aru Tokoro  (1958); and a confrontation of the transitory in the formal abstractions and blurred Tokyo street scenes of Moment / Toki (2004). Ishimoto’s ability to take both eastern and western subjects and recontexualize them through his unique bilingual aesthetic vision, made him the perfect Japan-America photography ambassador-at-large.

While still a student at the Institute of Design in the early 1950s, Ishimoto’s teacher Harry Callahan introduced his work to The Museum of Modern Art photography curator Edward Steichen, who would exhibit it in the seminal 1955 Family of Man group show and a later solo show in 1961. Impressed by Ishimoto’s ability to easily navigate both the Japanese and American photographic communities, Steichen asked the young photographer after his return to Japan in 1953 to host the museum’s architectural curator Arthur Drexel, in addition to gathering Japanese submissions for the Family of Man show. More than 20 years later in 1974, MoMA’s John Szarkowski and his Japanese co-curator Shoji Yamagishi would include Ishimoto’s work and acknowledge his help “as a selfless liaison with the other [Japanese] photographers and, as a translator who [understood] the photographer’s special language” in the museum’s New Japanese Photography exhibition catalog. In his role as a photographic bilinguist, Ishimoto was also largely responsible for introducing a formal modernism imbued with a distinctly western sense of individuality to a new generation of Japanese photographers through his 1954 solo show in Tokyo, and his widely published architectural images of Katsura. This exposure contributed to the emergence of the more expressive “image school” generation, whose members included Ikko Narahara, Shomei Tomatsu and Eikoh Hosoe.


Although he became a naturalized Japanese citizen in 1969, Ishimoto continued to visit the U.S. to work on a variety of photographic projects – many of them resulting in photobooks. Within the ICP Library collection there are 5 Yasuhiro Ishimoto photobooks, published over a period from 1958 to 2009. When viewed together, they show the different sides of Ishimoto’s multi-tiered photographic vision, while also confirming a unity in what on first glance seems to be a disparate body of work. The earliest is Someday, Somewhere / Aru Hi, Aru Tokoro (1958), the well-read book I pulled from the stacks on my first visit to the library. It is organized into three sections and includes images taken in both Chicago and Tokyo. The book, often cited as one of the first important postwar Japanese photobooks, begins with a selection of black-and-white and color offset images that highlight a formal modernist exploration of signage, graffiti and urban abstractions. Towards the end of this section, the prints become rich high contrast gravures, some with vertical gatefolds that showcase a repetition of flat Warhol-like graphic car images. “The Beach” section that follows continues his focus on the formal, as it shows the cropped sandy legs and torsos of beach visitors along with groups of bathers lounging or standing in the abstracted patterns of the sand. “The Beach” gives way to the last section called “The Little Ones,” which allows Ishimoto to shift gears and explore identity and race with photographs of masked children that bring to mind later images by Ralph Eugene Meatyard. Shot in both the U.S. and Japan, Ishimoto’s photos of white, Asian and African American children progress in a formal manner, grouping together like-image of girls with glasses or boys with guns. Often the children stare at the viewer with a knowing edge that suggests the weight of an adult world.



With Ishimoto’s relationship to Chicago as their starting point, 2 later books in the collection present distinctly different historical studies of his work. Yasuhiro Ishimoto: A Tale of Two Cities (1999), the comprehensive catalog for a traveling retrospective exhibition organized by Colin Westerbeck at the Art Institute of Chicago, does a thorough job of covering the different themes found in Ishimoto’s photography up to1999. Although the images included overlap with several of those found in other more narrowly focused Ishimoto books at the library, the context and the wonderful essay are extremely valuable in confirming Ishimoto’s role as a “visual bilingulist.” On the opposite end of the spectrum is the slim Stephen Daiter Gallery (Chicago) catalog Newman & Ishimoto – Reunion in Chicago: Photographs 1949-52 (1999) on the friendship between Ishimoto and the American photographer Marvin E. Newman. The two photographers met while both students at the Chicago Institute of Design and cemented their friendship during long hours spent together in the darkroom of the Fort Dearborn Camera Club. The Daiter Gallery catalog, which presents familiar Chicago street scenes by Ishimoto, is particularly beneficial for elucidating the common thread of an underlying formalism rooted in modernism that shaped both photographers’ work.



This strong sense of form and composition is always present in Ishimoto’s work and photobooks. Whether the street scenes of his Shibuya, Shibuya (2007) that sequence images in groups based on the patterns and logos worn by fashionable Tokyoites or the abstractions of leaves and clouds interspersed by blurred urbanites in his Moment / Toki (2004), these two later books in the ICP Library are further affirmation of a vision that consistently merges a western modernist education grounded in the teachings of the Bauhaus with an eastern attention to a subtle and often fleeting beauty. Completed when Ishimoto was already in his 80s, Moment /Toki (2004) calmly confronts time, a time that is changing and ultimately fading.  Shibuya, Shibuya (2007) is more rhythmic and patterns its sequences to the beat of the urban environment. Both books speak to Ishimoto’s role as a bilingual guide in a photographic journey that conflates an abstraction centered on form and texture with a social exploration bound to western individuality. The mementos of this bi-directional east-west passage are deceptively quiet images that emerge from a refined visual sensibility that “[writes] haikus with a camera” (Westerbeck). As James N. Wood, the Director and President of The Art Institute of Chicago commented in the foreword to Ishimoto’s retrospective catalog, A Tale of Two Cities, “…Ishimoto’s photographs build a bridge that spans a hemisphere. The magnitude of Ishimoto’s accomplishment was recognized… in his homeland when he was made a ‘Person of Cultural Merit,’ an honor that entails a fellowship for life… Now it is our turn to celebrate Ishimoto’s lifetime achievement…”











Yasuhiro Ishimoto books at the ICP Library:
Someday, Somewhere / Aru Hi, Aru Tokoro. Tokyo: Geibi Shuppansha, Showa 33, 1958. TR681.C5 .I84 1958 -R

Westerbeck, Colin. Yasuhiro Ishimoto: A Tale of Two Cities. Chicago, IL: Art Institute of Chicago, 1999. TR647.I83 .W47 1999

Newman and Ishimoto – Reunion in Chicago: Photographs from 1949-52. Chicago: Stephen Daiter Gallery, 1999.  TR647.N489 1999

 Moment / Toki. Tokyo: Heibonsha Ltd., 2004. Signed. TR655 .I38 2004

Shibuya, Shibuya. Tokyo: Heibonsha Ltd., 2007. Signed. TR659.8 .I83 2007