Some recent activties

It’s over a year that I have written at Japan-Photo.info. But is it not because I lost interest in Japanese photography, in contrary, I was so much involved in Japanese photography, that there wasn’t much time nor thoughts left for the blog, unfortunately.

Eikoh Hosoe: Kamaitachi 8, 1965

Some time ago I became director of Galerie Priska Pasquer, Cologne, were I am responsible for the program of Japanese photography. Already in the years before we had some solo shows with Japanese artists at the gallery: Iwao Yamawaki (Modern photography), Eikoh Hosoe (his first solo show in Germany), Daido Moriyama and Rinko Kawauchi. In the beginning we did not receive much response, but this changed very much in the recent years, because Western curators and private collectors alike became more and more aware of the history of Japanese photography and of the quality of the works coming from Japan.

Osamu Shiihara: Untitled, end 1930s

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Berlin – Tokyo – Berlin? Some thoughts on the asymmetry of the relationship of Japanese and German arts in the 20th century

Did anybody see the exhibition Berlin – Tokyo / Tokyo – Berlin at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo or later in Berlin? I wasn’t neither able to see the exhibition in Tokyo nor at the second venue in Berlin afterwards.

The reviews in the German press were very positive (except on the contemporary part of the show), while in Japan the review at the Japan Times was quite crushing:

Berlin/Tokyo: Invitation to a car wreck
The exhibition “Tokyo-Berlin/ Berlin-Tokyo” was put together by a total of 17 curators and assistants, and looks like it. This is a dog’s breakfast of a show — although there is a lot of good art here, the total amounts to less than the sum of the parts. If there is a unifying theme, it is trepidation, the fear of putting a foot wrong.
[Quote: Monti diPietro, Japan Times]

Berlin_Tokyo_300.jpg

Some better examples

While I cannot say anything about the exhibition, I found the catalogue to the exhibition very weak compared to previous exhibition catalogues about the relationship between the West and Japan. Just take for example the catalogue to a similar themed exhibition “Japan und Europa 1543-1929″ which was shown in Berlin in 1993. The catalogue to “Japan und Europa 1543-1929″ contains many elaborate essays and additionally detailed descriptions and comments to every piece exhibited.  Or you could take the more recent exhibition catalogue “Encounters: The Meeting of Asia and Europe 1500 – 1800” (Victoria &Albert Museum, London 2004) which contains very insightful essays on the early encounters between the West and Japan. I have seen the show and I keep it in my mind as a very important contribution to our knowledge about the cultural exchange in the early stage of the contact between the Far East and Europe.

Jun Watanabe: «Winter», 1926

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Yonosuke Natori and Nippon Studio, Kawasaki City Museum

If you happen to be in Tokyo area I would highly recommend a side trip to the Kawaski City Museum to see the exhibition about “Yônosuke Natori and Nippon Studio (1931-1945)”The English translation of the Japanese exhibition title (on the exhibition poster or at Tokyo Art Beat for example) is only half done. The full English translation would be “Yônosuke Natori and Japan Studio”. (until Sept. 3).

Yonosuke Natori and Nippon Kobo

Yônosuke Natori (1910-62) was a professional photographer, founder of “Nippon Studio” (“Nippon Kôbô” in Japanese) and publisher of the international, multilanguage magazine “Nippon” (Japan). With his studio and the magazine Yonosuke Natori introduced to Japan cutting-edge photographic techniques and design that he studied in Germany.1

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  1. As far as I know there is not much information available on Natori outside Japan. There is some basic information published on Natori, his studio and “Nippon” in The History of Japanese Photography.  up