Posts by Ferdinand Brueggemann

Contemporary and modern Japanese photography as art is my major interest and I just want to share news and information (mainly) about Japanese photography I find worth to talk about.

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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Masahisa Fukase: Kanazawa, 1978 ©Masahisa Fukase

The best photobook in 25 years: “Ravens” by Masahisa Fukase

The British Journal of Photography asked Chris Killip, Ute Eskildsen, Gerry Badger, Jeffrey Ladd and Yoko Sawada to select the best photobooks of the last 25 years.

The critics chose Masahisa Fukase’s book “Ravens” as the best book.

Masahisa Fukase: Karasu (Ravens), Sokyu-sha, 1986

Masahisa Fukase: Karasu (Ravens), Sokyu-sha, 1986

 

The best photobooks in 25 years
An obscure masterpiece is chosen in our critic’s poll of the best photobooks of the past 25 years.

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Rinko Kawauchi, Lieko Shiga exhibitions, lectures at Photobook Festival Kassel, Germany

Next week Rinko Kawauchi will join the 3. International Photobook Festival in Kassel, Germany, where she will exhibit works from her series “Utatane” (2001).
I have already written about Rinko  here and here, therefore today just my favourite quote about “Utatane”:

Just when it seems that everything has been photographed, in every possible way, along comes a photographer, whose work is so original that the medium is renewed. Such a photographer is Rinko Kawauchi, who makes simple, lyrical pictures, so fresh and unusual that they are difficult to describe or classify. Her images documentary everyday things, yet could not be described as documentary. They are generally light in tone, yet somehow dark in mood. They are almost hallucinatory, yet seem to capture something fundamental about the psychological mood of modern life.
Garry Badger

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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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Asako Narahashi, recent works

Last year Asako Narahashi began to photograph outside in Japan, mainly in Dubai and Korea. Here is a squence of four works from Korea. Like for her previous series “half awake and half asleep in the water” again she found a very poetic title: “Coming Closer and Getting Further Away”

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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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