Exhibition dates: February 28th 2009 – July 31st 2009
‘Viaduct 1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 1981′
“Daidō Moriyama is one of the most important and exciting Japanese photographers of our time, having made prolific, often experimental pictures of modern urban life since the 1960s. This exhibition showcases a group of approximately 45 photographs made in and around Tokyo in the 1980s, when Moriyama focused his mature aesthetic on the city with renewed intensity.
Moriyama approaches the world with an equalizing eye, capturing disparate peripheral details that in themselves account for little, but together add up to a powerful diagnosis of modern experience. In 1980s Japan such details encompassed the disorienting and sometimes brutal juxtaposition of traditional culture and modernization, most visible in the glut of consumer goods and images. But in Moriyama’s photographs these subjects appear alongside the banal elements of any streetscape: a derelict patch of pavement and wall, a car with an aggressive key scratch running its full length, even a single rose blossom.
Moriyama’s urban imagery shares some of its qualities with other great street photography of the 20th century, and he has cited the photographs of William Klein as a major influence. But his work involves strong responses to a wide range of modern art and literature, including photographs and graphic designs by many of his Japanese contemporaries, Andy Warhol’s silkscreens, and the novels of Jack Kerouac and James Baldwin. Moriyama’s mix of international and Japanese trends to represent modern Tokyo is one source of his photography’s power, and the exhibition will include a small number of works by other artists to demonstrate his visual sensibility, including prints and photographs by Warhol, Klein, Shomei Tomatsu, and Tadanori Yokoo.”
Text from the Philadelphia Museum of Art website
‘Untitled (Train Yard)’
‘Untitled (Twin Chairs)’
“In 1960 Moriyama took up the study of photography under Takeji Iwamiya and one year later moved to Tokyo hoping to join the eminent photographerss’ group VIVO, a short-lived cooperative whose members were exploring and confronting the revolution in modern Japanese society in their work. Although VIVO disbanded a week after Moriyama’s arrival in the capital, the visual and existential turmoil they explored would become one of the core subjects in Moriyama’s photographs. His gritty, black and white images of streets and highways express the conflicting realities of contemporary Japan, the disorienting and sometimes brutal juxtaposition of traditional culture and modernization.
“It is a pleasure to present this group of photographs from the Museum’s collection reflecting the distinctive vision of Daidō Moriyama, who is undoubtedly among the great urban photographers of the 20th century,” Curator of Photographs Peter Barberie said. “These particular images focus on the visual experience of modern-day Tokyo, but through them Moriyama is documenting broader global trends of modernization, and at the same time exploring the unique aesthetic qualities of his medium.”
His early images from the 1960s and 70s tested the notion of photographic artistry in an extreme fashion. He chose seemingly arbitrary subjects, and experimented with motion and overexposure to create blurred or nearly blank images, adopting an anti-aesthetic position. Other Japanese photographers were also working in this vein, but Moriyama’s 1972 book Bye Bye Photography became the defining statement of this particular style. The later photographs presented in this exhibition are generally sharper in focus but maintain the peripheral vantage point that Moriyama so often employed, as well as the seemingly random content. His images capture with an equalizing eye the kinds of disparate peripheral details that litter the modern urban experience: shadows, cars, and abandoned corners, as well as the glut of consumer goods and commodities.
Profoundly influenced by Japanese photographers Eikoh Hosoe and Shomei Tomatsu, Moriyama’s vision was also enriched by his acquaintance with the work of American photographers William Klein and Robert Frank. Like them he practiced a new, more action-oriented street photography. His images are often out of focus, vertiginously tilted, or invasively cropped.
His work also involves strong responses to a wide range of modern art and literature, including photographs and graphic designs by many of his Japanese contemporaries, Andy Warhol’s silkscreens, and the novels of Jack Kerouac and James Baldwin. The exhibition will include a small number of works by other artists to demonstrate his visual sensibility, including prints and photographs by Warhol, Klein, Shomei Tomatsu, and Tadanori Yokoo.”
Text from the Artdaily.org website
‘Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, Midnight 1986′
All images copyright Daido Moriyama