YUTAKA TAKANASHI | Untitled, from the series "Toshi-e", 1974

Yutaka Takanashi – Towards the City (including a short history of the “Provoke” era), Part 3

This is part three of of my essay “Yutaka Takanashi – Towards the City” for the “Yutaka Takanashi” exhibition catalogue, accompanying the show at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson.1)Essay: “Towards the City” [French/English]. in: Yutaka Takanashi, published by Éditorial RM, Mexico City and Toluca Éditions, Paris. Published on occasion of the exhibition Yutaka Takanashi, Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, May 10 – July 29, 2012

[Part 1part 2 and part 4]

 

Scrap Picker and Hunter of Images

In 1966, when his series Tokyo-jin was being published, Yutaka Takanashi formulated his fundamental attitude to the medium of photography. As a photographer, he moved between two extremes – on the one hand, a “hunter of images” who aims to capture the invisible; on the other, a “scrap picker” who only picks up what is visible.2)Yutaka Takanashi, in: Camera Mainichi, no. 1, January 1966, p. 13. Translation in: reference as above Masuda: Field Notes of Light, p. 144.

“[…] two conflicting creatures seem to have settled into my body. One is a ‘hunter of images’ aiming exclusively to shoot down the invisible, and the other is a ‘scrap picker’ who can only believe in what is visible.”

In the Tokyo-jin series, Takanashi was working primarily in “scrap picker” mode, photographing the visible elements of Tokyo, although the “hunter of the invisible” manifested itself in a number of pictures, such as Hachiko Square, Shibuya Station, Shibuya-ku, 1965, in which a girl appears to be reflected in the back of a man in a dark sports jacket leaning on a pane of glass opposite which she is standing.

Yutaka Takanashi: Hachiko Square, Shibuya Station, Shibuya-ku, from the series "Toshi-e", April 25, 1965

Yutaka Takanashi: Hachiko Square, Shibuya Station, Shibuya-ku, from the series “Tokyo-Jin”, , April 25, 1965, published in “Toshi-e”, 1974

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References   [ + ]

1. Essay: “Towards the City” [French/English]. in: Yutaka Takanashi, published by Éditorial RM, Mexico City and Toluca Éditions, Paris. Published on occasion of the exhibition Yutaka Takanashi, Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, May 10 – July 29, 2012
2. Yutaka Takanashi, in: Camera Mainichi, no. 1, January 1966, p. 13. Translation in: reference as above Masuda: Field Notes of Light, p. 144.
Shomei Tomatsu: Untitled, from the series "Protest, Tokyo", 1969 ©Shomei Tomatsu

Yutaka Takanashi – Towards the City (including a short history of the “Provoke” era), Part 2

This is part two of of my essay “Yutaka Takanashi – Towards the City” for the “Yutaka Takanashi” exhibition catalogue, accompanying the show at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson. 1)Essay: “Towards the City” [French/English]. in: Yutaka Takanashi, published by Éditorial RM, Mexico City and Toluca Éditions, Paris. Published on occasion of the exhibition Yutaka Takanashi, Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, May 10 – July 29, 2012

[Part 1part 3 and part 4]

The “Provoke” era

The economic upturn of the 1960s, which established Japan as the third-largest economic power on Earth, took its toll on Japanese society. Particularly in the major cities, the boom led to the decline of traditional structures which in turn left a feeling of uprooting and perspectivelessness among the younger generation.

Especially in the universities, a fundamental opposition developed against the new political, economic and cultural structures that had emerged in the post-war period. In 1968, the resistance manifested itself once again in student protests against the pending extension of the “ANPO” security pact and the Vietnam War.

The sense of alienation and rootlessness felt by the young generation found artistic expression above all in photography from the end of the 1960s.2)See also: Charles Merewether: “Disjunctive Modernity. The Practice of Artistic Experimentation in Postwar Japan”, in: Art, Anti-Art, Non-Art. Experimentations in the Public Sphere in Postwar Japan 1950-1970, Los Angeles 2007, pp. 24-29.

This phase of the upheaval was documented by Shomei Tomatsu in his photo book Oo! Shinjuku. A resident of the Shinjuku district, he zoned in on the public and private lives of the young generation and the student protests which began in Shinjuku.

Shomei Tomatsu: Oh! Shinjuku. Tokyo: Shaken, 1969

Shomei Tomatsu: Oh! Shinjuku. Tokyo: Shaken, 1969

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References   [ + ]

1. Essay: “Towards the City” [French/English]. in: Yutaka Takanashi, published by Éditorial RM, Mexico City and Toluca Éditions, Paris. Published on occasion of the exhibition Yutaka Takanashi, Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, May 10 – July 29, 2012
2. See also: Charles Merewether: “Disjunctive Modernity. The Practice of Artistic Experimentation in Postwar Japan”, in: Art, Anti-Art, Non-Art. Experimentations in the Public Sphere in Postwar Japan 1950-1970, Los Angeles 2007, pp. 24-29.

Yutaka Takanashi – Towards the City (including a short history of the “Provoke” era), Part I

In the past years I have been involved in introducing the photographic work of Yutaka Takanashi to the West. In 2009 I wrote an essay on Yutaka Takanashi:”Takanashi’s Magnetic Storm” for the first Western monograph on the artist: “Yutaka Takanashi. Photography 1965-74″.

In 2012 the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson held the first Yutaka Takanashi museum exhibition outside Japan. On this occasion I contributed an essay “Towards the City” to the catalogue to the show.1)Essay: “Towards the City” [French/English]. in: Yutaka Takanashi, published by Éditorial RM, Mexico City and Toluca Éditions, Paris.  Published on occasion of the exhibition Yutaka Takanashi, Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, May 10 – July 29, 2012  In this text I wrote about Takanashi’s series Toshi-e as well as about his subsequent series Machi (Town) and the (unpublished) series on bars in Shinjuku, Tokyo.
And since  Yutaka Takanashi was the co-founder of the legendary Provoke group I added a short history of the Provoke era.2)A detailed description of the history of the Provoke era isn’t available outside Japan yet…

Yutaka Takanashi, published by Éditorial RM, Mexico City & Toluca Éditions, Paris

Yutaka Takanashi, published by Éditorial RM, Mexico City & Toluca Éditions, Paris

[Part 2, part 3 and part 4]

 

Tokyo

The metropolis of Tokyo is the central theme of 20th century Japanese photography – from the artistic elevation of the city in pictorial images in the early days of the century to the dynamic representation of architecture and urban life based on the “new photography” (a literal translation of the Japanese “shinko shashin”) to the photographic documentation of destruction and reconstruction in the post-war period. In all of its facets, the city of Tokyo reflects the radical change that Japan underwent on its way to becoming an industrial society; it is a breeding ground for social change that also symbolises the collision of tradition and modernity.

Masao Horino: The Character of Greater Tokyo. Art Direction: Takao Itagaki, Chuokoron magazine, Chuokoron-sha October, 1931

Masao Horino: The Character of Greater Tokyo. Art Direction: Takao Itagaki, Chuokoron magazine, Chuokoron-sha October, 1931

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References   [ + ]

1. Essay: “Towards the City” [French/English]. in: Yutaka Takanashi, published by Éditorial RM, Mexico City and Toluca Éditions, Paris.  Published on occasion of the exhibition Yutaka Takanashi, Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, May 10 – July 29, 2012
2. A detailed description of the history of the Provoke era isn’t available outside Japan yet…

Japanese Photobooks – Auction Results, Christie’s, May 21

I never really followed the price development of the market for rare Japanese photobooks. But I remember that once a collector told me that the price for rare Japanese books goes up by 100 $ every month. But this was before the financial crisis began.

The blog DLK COLLECTION just posted an overview of the results of the ‘Photobook’ auction at Christie’s, South Kensington, May 21:

The results of the recent Photobooks sale at Christie’s in London were considerably stronger than the other photography-related book sales this season. While I don’t have access to historical photobook auction records, according to Christie’s, the inscribed Frank [The Americans] likely set a record for a regularly-published (not special or limited edition) postwar book, fetching a hefty £43250 ($62,194). Photobooks by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Richard Prince also soared to big prices. Overall, the buy-in rate was solid (just under 28%) and the total sale proceeds covered the total High estimate.
[Quote: DLK COLLECTION]

This prompted me to have a closer look at the results of the Japanese photobooks included in the auction. Kikuji Kawada’s “The Map” became the 5th most expensive book and Araki’s extremely rare edition of  “ABCD” (20 copies) made the 9th place on the list, closely followed by the two ‘Workshop’ portfolios (place 11 and 12) and Yutaka Takanashi’s “Toshi-e” (no. 14).

Here are the results for Japanese photobooks:

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Shomei Tomatsu: Untitled (Hateruma-jima, Okinawa), from the series "The Pencil of the Sun", 1971 © Shomei Tomatsu

Shomei Tomatsu exhibition

It is interesting to have a look at the Western reception of Japanese photography in the last three decades. After a few initial exhibitions on Japanese photography in the 1970s and early 1980s – like the first and seminal show New Japanese Photography at the MOMA 1974 – the Western audience lost interest in this exceptionally productive period of time and in Japanese photography in generally. It took almost a decade that the interest in Japanese photography revitalized, but this time the interest focussed on contemporary Japanese photographers like Nobuyoshi Araki (first solo show in the West 1992), Hiroshi Sugimoto or Toshio Shibata.
Historical Japanese only came into view again at the end 1990s with the world tour of the Daido Moriyama exhibition, produced 1999 by Sandra Phillips at the SFMOMA, and in 2004 with the exhibition “The History of Japanese Photography” by Anne Tucker at the Museum of Fine Art Houston.Ann Tucker’s catalogue will be the reference publication on Japanese photography for many years to come. This kind of meandering reception of Japanese photography led to the surprising result that “the most important figure in Japanese postwar photography” is still much less known as the photographers who developed their work with or against him. Of course this photographer – who had been labeled the “godfather” of Japanese photography by an artist I met in Tokyo recently – is Shomei Tomatsu.

Recently I had the pleasure to initiate the first solo exhibition of Shomei Tomatsu in Germany, which is currently on show at Galerie Priska Pasquer.

Shomei Tomatsu at Galerie Priska Pasquer Cologne
Exhibition: March 13 – April 17, 2010

Shomei Tomatsu: Prostitute, 1957 © Shomei Tomatsu

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Ikko Narahara Exhibition in Cologne

I was quite busy the whole summer working Galerie Priska Pasquer on the program of Japanese photography – including a trip to Tokyo. One result of my work can currently be seen at our gallery:

Ikko Narahara – Photographs from the 1950s to the 1970s

It’s the first solo exhibiton of Ikko Narahara´s work in Germany and the first time that his vintage prints from the 60s and 70s are on show in a gallery.

Ikko Narahara: Island without Green #12, Gunkanjima, Nagasaki, from the series: 'Human Land', 1954-1957  ©Ikko Narahara

Ikko Narahara, born in 1931 in the Fukuoka Prefecture was self taught photographer. The response to his first (one week) solo exhibition in Tokyo’s only photo gallery was so positive that he decided to become a photographer. Soon after he took part in the groundbreaking photography exhibition ‘The Eyes of Ten’ in Tokyo in 1957. Two years later he became one of the co-founders of the legendary photo agency VIVO (in collaboration with Shomei Tomatsu, Eikoh Hosoe, Kikuji Kawada, and others), which was to be the epicenter for a new generation of Japanese photographers.

Ikko Narahara: Garden of Silence #03, Hakodate, Hokkaido, from the series: 'Domains', 1958  ©Ikko Naraharaa

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Must/should sees: Tokyo Photo fair/ The Provoke Era; Photography Now – China, Japan, Korea, at SFMOMA

TOKYO PHOTO 2009

It’s a little bit late, but for Tokyoites and current visitors to Tokyo not too late:  This weekend the first photography art fair is held in Japan: TOKYO PHOTO 2009. The fair is not that big – not to say quite small with 18 galleries participating, including four galleries from the USA. But some of the leading Japanese galleries have a booth like Tomio Koyama Gallery, Zeit-Photo Salon, MEM or Taro Nasu.

TOKYO PHOTO 2009 endeavors to be the foremost art fair of photography in Japan. The venue is located in the heart of international business and culture in Tokyo. To be held from September 4 to 6, Tokyo Photo 2009 will provide visitors with a unique opportunity to see and buy a wide range of photographic works from vintage prints to cutting-edge digitally enhanced images.

It would be great, if this first photography fair would be successful and would be repeated in the upcoming years. Until now we have two major photography fairs, Paris Photo in Europe and the AIPAD Photography Show New York in the USA. I think, a successful third fair in Asia would be an important tool to promote photography in Japan and nearby countries like China or Korea whose photography scenes are growing, but in which the market for photography still needs development. But of course, for this galleries from others Asian countries need to be included in future photography fairs…

Eikoh Hosoe: Man and Woman #6. 1960  © Eikoh Hosoe

THE PROVOKE ERA – Postwar Japanese Photography

I would love to see this show which opens on September 12 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The show is curated by Sandra S. Phillips, senior curator of photography at the SFMOMA. Sandra did already the two fabulous traveling exhibitions which introduced leading Japanese photographers to the West: Daido Moriyama in 1999 and Shomei Tomatsu in 2006.

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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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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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Symposion on Japanese Photography at Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland

On occasion of the exhibition “Shomei Tomatsu – Skin of a Nation”1)See my my earlier post about the exhibition when it started in New York. at the Fotomuseum Winterthur, the Museum hosts the symposium
“Photography and Lifestyle in Japan from 1945 until Today”
on Friday October 27.

Shomei Tomatsu: «Oshima Eiko, Actress in the Film Shiiku (Priz Stock)», 1961

I am invited to give a lecture on “Contemporary Japanese Photography and Lifestyle” and my talk is schedule just before the party. :-)
By the way, during the party there will be a slide show arranged by the Mariko Takeuchi, Tokyo: “20 new Japanese Photographers”
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References   [ + ]

1. See my my earlier post about the exhibition when it started in New York.