ISSEI SUDA | Kanda Tokyo, from the series Fushi Kaden, 1975

Issei Suda, a Master of Japanese Photography | Interview Roland Angst with Ferdinand Brueggemann | Part I

Previously I had posted an interview I did with Mariko Takeuchi on Japanese photography, this time I am posting an interview the Berlin publisher Roland Angst did with me on the Japanese photographer Issei Suda for the first Western monograph in the artist.
Suda is slowly becoming more popular in the West
1)At GALERIE | PRISKA PASQUER we introduced Issei Suda’s work with two solo exhibitions in 2009 and 2013 and frequent presentations at fairs like Paris Photo, AIPAD New York and Art Basel. with his distinct but mysterious 1970s work as a kind of anti-thesis to the raw energy of the Provoke photography.  

Part I of the interview | Part II of the interview

Issei Suda, a Master of Japanese Photography | Interview by Roland Angst with Ferdinand Brueggemann

Published in: “Issei Suda – The Work of a Lifetime – Photographs 1968 – 2006“, Only Photography, Berlin, 2011

ISSEI SUDA | "Miura Peninsula, Kanagawa Prefecture", from the series "Fushi Kaden", 1975

ISSEI SUDA | “Miura Peninsula, Kanagawa Prefecture”, from the series “Fushi Kaden”, 1975

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References   [ + ]

1. At GALERIE | PRISKA PASQUER we introduced Issei Suda’s work with two solo exhibitions in 2009 and 2013 and frequent presentations at fairs like Paris Photo, AIPAD New York and Art Basel.
YUTAKA TAKANASHI | Hongo: Manjo Parlor, 6-17-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, from the series "Machi" (Town), 1975

Yutaka Takanashi – Towards the City | Part 4 | Final

This is part four, the final part 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, part 3]

Machi

Following Toshi-e, Yutaka Takanashi also devoted himself to the traditional side of Japan while remaining with his favourite subject, Tokyo. In 1975, he photographed the city’s old shitamachi suburbs, which had escaped demolition so far. He shows the part of the city that has only given way to modernity to a limited extent, and where the old, traditional prewar Japan has not yet been displaced.

YUTAKA TAKANASHI | Mita, Shiba: Suzuki Steal Shop, 5-20-14 Shiba, Minato-ku, from the series "Machi" (Town), 1977

YUTAKA TAKANASHI | Mita, Shiba: Suzuki Steal Shop, 5-20-14 Shiba, Minato-ku, from the series “Machi” (Town), 1977

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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
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…
Book | Yutaka Takanashi, Photography 1965 – 74

Contemporary Book Award for “Yutaka Takanashi. Photography 1965-74” @Rencontres d’Arles

Last weekend I received the pleasant news that a photobook I am co-editor of won the Contemporary Book Award at the Rencontres d’Arles Festival 2010.

The Historical Book Award and The Contemporary Book Awards
The Historical Book Award goes to the best thematic book or monograph published between 1 June 2009 and 31 May 2010. The Contemporary Book Award goes to the best photography book published between 1 June 2009 and 31 May 2010. The Book Awards winners are chosen by the five Discovery Award nominators, Rencontres d’Arles president Jean-Noël Jeanneney, and LUMA Foundation founder Maja Hoffmann.

Yutaka Takanashi. Photography 1965-74
Yutaka Takanashi, Photography 1965 – 74
Editors: Roland Angst, Ferdinand Brueggemann, Priska Pasquer
Essays by Ferdinand Brueggmann and Hitoshi Suzuki
Published by Only Photography, Berlin
116 pages, 41 images, Triplex, hardcover, ed. 500
Text: German, English, Japanese
ISBN 978-3-9812537-2-6

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On Yutaka Takanashi: Towards Tokyo

In 1966 Yutaka Takanashi published a 36 pages long spread with 43 photographs introducing his new series titled “Tokyo-jin”, a title which is usually translated as “Tokyoites” or “People of Tokyo”. The series was published in the magazine Camera Mainichi – a photo magazine which was essential documenting contemporary currents in the Japanese photography scene.(Camera Mainichi, 1966, no. 1. In the magazine the title “Tokyo-jin” was translated as “Tokyo Man”. The editor of Camera Mainichi, Shôji Yamagishi, co-curated in 1974 the seminal exhibition on Japanese photography at the MOMA, see the post on John Szarkowski, 2007.)

Yutaka Takanashi: West Exit Square, Shinjuku Station, Shinjuku-ku, 1965 ©Yutaka Takanashi

Photographed 1964-65 “Tokyo-jin” concentrates on the inhabitants of the mega city Tokyo. At that time Tokyo had overcome the severe destructions of World War II and new centers for consumption, mass- and avant-garde culture had emerged, now mainly concentrated in Shinjuku and Shibuya.(Before WWII Ginza and Asakusa were the heart of the avant-garde culture and Western influenced modernity. You can find a color video from 1935 on Ginza and Asakusa in a 2007 post. Today Asakusa is seen as representing the ‘old’ Tokyo. See for example my post on Hiroh Kikai from 2006.) Takanashi’s series shows people in public spaces, in the streets, at department stores, commuting to work – like the fantastic image of an overcrowded subway train -, or spending leisure time together.

Yutaka Takanashi: Shinjuku Station, Shinjuku-ku, February 12, 1965 ©Yutaka Takanashi
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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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Focus on contemporary Japanese photography. Interview with Mariko Takeuchi, Part II

This is the second part of my interview with Mariko Takeuchi, last year’s guest curator the Guest Curator of the Paris Photo fair. The interview was published (without the images) in foam magazine #17, winter 2008.
—-

Part II    (Part I of the interview here)

Ferdinand Brueggemann:
Speaking of institutions and the galleries I would like to ask about Rinko Kawauchi. She is highly successful in the West, with many solo shows in Europe, in the USA and even in Latin America, but so far she has had only one solo exhibition in a Japanese museum, and that was in the countryside a long way out of Tokyo. Do you have an explanation for this gap?

Yutaka Takanashi: Untitled (Towards the city), 1968 ©Yutaka Takanashi

Mariko Takeuchi:
Perhaps it is not appropriate to judge an artist’s success only by his or her solo exhibitions in Japanese museums. Nevertheless it is still not easy for Japanese photographers to be recognized and promoted by Japanese museums. For example, Yutaka Takanashi, who played a leading from around Provoke Era at the end of the 1960s will have his first museum-scale solo exhibition at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo next January. As you know, even though there are several museums which collect and exhibit photographs, it is still not easy for a photographer to get a solo show in a museum. In spite of that, Rinko Kawauchi, for example, is amazingly successful in Japan. Her photobooks are very popular. The common way to success for photographers in Japan is to first publish a photobook.

Masafumi Sanai: Trouble in mind. Taisho, 2008

Talking about photobooks I would like to come back to the John Szarkowski’s show in 1974. In the exhibiton catalogue Shoji Yamagishi, the Japanese co-curator, made the very important observation that the photobook is the most important tool for Japanese photographers to communicate their work. He gave three reasons for this: the aesthetics of the book, the shortage of exhibition venues and a non-existing art market: “Japanese photographers have only a limited opportunity to present their original prints to the public and no opportunity to sell their pictures to public or private collections. […] Japanese photographers usually complete a project in book form…”

Is Yamagishi’s observation that the photobook is the most important medium for a photographer still valid?

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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….