Kikuji Kawada: The Japanese National Flag, 1960-65

John Szarkowski (1925-2007) and Japanese Photography

John Szarkowski, a curator who almost single-handedly elevated photography’s status in the last half-century to that of a fine art, making his case in seminal writings and landmark exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, died in on Saturday in Pittsfield, Mass. He was 81.
[Quote: New York Times Obituary]

American Photography

As the New York Times points out John Szarkowski “was first to confer importance on the work of Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander and Garry Winogrand” and two of his books, “‘The Photographer’s Eye,’ (1964) and ‘Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures From the Collection of the Museum of Modern Art’ (1973), remain syllabus staples in art history programs.” Szarkowski also introduced the work by William Eggleston in the now legendary exhibition “William Egglestons Guide” (1976). This exhibition “was widely considered the worst of the year in photography.”

New Japanese Photography, MOMA, New York 1974

New Japanese Photography, MOMA, New York 1974

 

New Japanese Photography

John Szarkowski left definitely his mark in the field of American photography, but not only there. In 1974 John Szarkowski organized together with Shôji Yamagishi (editor of Camera Mainichi magazine) the exhibition “New Japanese Photography”. The exhibition introduced 15 photographers, amongst them the grand masters of Japanese photography: Ken Domon, Yasuhiro Ishimoto, Shomei Tomatsu, Kikuji Kawada, Masatoshi Naitoh, Tetsuya Ichimura, Hiromi Tsuchida, Masahisa Fukase, Ikko, Eikoh Hosoe, Daido Moriyama, Ryoji Akiyama, Ken Ohara, Shigeru Tamura and Bishin Jumonji.
It was the first major exhibition about contemporary Japanese photography outside Japan ever.

Kikuji Kawada: The Japanese National Flag, 1960-65

Kikuji Kawada: The Japanese National Flag, 1960-65

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The ultimate list of Japanese photography books. Not!

Books on Photography Books

In the last years the interest in Japanese photography books has jumped from non recognition to becoming a must have not only for specialized photo book collectors. Books which were completely unknown outside Japan except to a few well informed collectors and researchers are now sold at high prices by rare book dealers and at auctions.1)The latest and most spectacular rare photobook auction was a few months ago at Christie’s in London. I know it is a little bit late, but nevertheless I will write a short report about the auction results in another post – after I have received the auction catalogue which I had to buy from a auction catalogue dealer in the US, since the catalogue was sold out weeks before the auction started….

It all began in 1999 with the exhibition catalogue “Fotografia Publica. Photography in Print 1919-1939”.

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References   [ + ]

1. The latest and most spectacular rare photobook auction was a few months ago at Christie’s in London. I know it is a little bit late, but nevertheless I will write a short report about the auction results in another post – after I have received the auction catalogue which I had to buy from a auction catalogue dealer in the US, since the catalogue was sold out weeks before the auction started….

Daido Moriyama at Foam, Amsterdam

Daido Moriyama is currently exhibited at Foam (Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam, until August 23).

Daido Moriyama: Stray Dog, Misawa, 1971

Those who are a little bit into Japanese photography will know his work. Daido Moriyama is one of the most important photographers of the 20th century and IMHO his book “Farwell Photography” (1972) is more radical than any western photography book of the beginning 1970s. At the moment I am waiting for a new reprint of “Farwell Photography” and I will write more about it after it has arrived from Japan.

Daido Moriyama: Japans Scenic Trio - Mutsumatsushima, 1974

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Moriyama – Shinjuku – Araki

Today is the last day of the exhibition Moriyama • Shinjuku • Araki at Tokyo City Opera Art Gallery. I wanted to write about it much earlier and I contacted the gallery for some more images and information since the website on the exhibition is still not finished yet. Unfortunately I haven’t received an answer and now I am a little bit late.

Moriyama - Shinjuku - Araki (exhibiton poster)

Anyway the information is not completely outdated since there is an accompanying book published, available at Amazon.jp.

Exhibition and book concentrate on one prominent place in Japan: Shinjuku, an entertainment, business and shopping area in Tokyo with the largest red light district, Kabukicho, in Japan. Both artists photographed in this district from the 1960s until today.
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Japanese photobooks at Swann auction


“Farwell Photography” by Daido Moriyama (Shashin yo Sayonara, 1972) is one of a dozen Japanese photography books (others are from Eikoh Hosoe, Jun Morinaga and Ikko Nakahara) being included in the upcoming auction “Photographic Literature” at Swann in New York, Dec. 7. The estimate for the book is 4.500 – 5.500 US$! This is above the price range I have seen in France recently. Even this book belongs undoubtly to the important photography books of the 20s century – more on Japanese photobooks and their current appraisal in a future post – I wonder what makes this book the second most expensive book in the auction behind a book by Robert Frank. We will see if the auction will confirm the high estimate…

Speaking of prices, during the extremely successful auction “Veronica’s Revenge” two weeks ago at Phillips, de Pury & Company, New York a “Seascape” by Hiroshi Sugimoto reached 27.600 US$ (estimate 10.000 – 15.000 US$).
Phillips, de Pury & Company New York, Veronica’s Revenge (Session 2), 11/9/2004

Daido Moriyama at Galerie Priska Pasquer, Cologne

Daido Moriyama: Chigasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, 1970/2004

Daido Moriyama at Galerie Priska Pasquer, Cologne, until Jan. 28, 2005
Daido Moriyama born in 1938 in Osaka is one of the most important Japanese photographers since 1945. His work plays a central role in establishing Japanese photography as one of the most creative directions in the history of photography. During the “Provoke Era” at the end of the 1960s/beginning of the 1970s Moriyama made a significant contribution to the development of photography and his influence on younger Japanese artists continues up until today.

Beside his black and white photographs Galerie Priska Pasquer is glad to be able to exhibit for the first time ever a group of colour photographs by Daido Moriyama.

Daido Moriyama: Yokosuka, 1970/2004