24
Mar
09

Exhibition: ‘Daidō Moriyama: Tokyo Photographs’ at Philadelphia Museum of Art

Exhibition dates: 28th February 2009 – 31st July 2009

Curator: Peter Barberie, Curator of Photographs

 

Many thankx to Philadelphia Museum of Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Daido Moriyama (Japanese, born 1938) 'Untitled' from the series 'Memory of Dog' 1982

 

Daidō Moriyama (Japanese, born 1938)
Untitled from the series Memory of Dog
1982
Gelatin silver print
Image: 8 1/16 × 11 13/16 inches (20.5 × 30 cm)
Purchased with funds contributed by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, 1990
Philadelphia Museum of Art
© Daidō Moriyama

 

 

Daidō Moriyama often calls himself a “stray dog,” a reference to one of his iconic early pictures of a roaming mongrel, but also to his preferred incidental vantage points in relation to his subjects and his beguiled yet wary stance toward modernising Japanese society. In the series Memory of Dog, he revisited photographic scenarios and motifs from his previous two decades of work, overlaying his peripheral approach with another quality that he finds crucial to photography: its relationship to memory.

 

Daidō Moriyama (Japanese, born 1938) 'Untitled (Rose)' 1984

 

Daidō Moriyama (Japanese, born 1938)
Untitled (Rose)
1984
Gelatin silver print
© Daidō Moriyama

 

Daidō Moriyama (Japanese, born 1938) 'Viaduct 1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo' 1981

 

Daidō Moriyama (Japanese, born 1938)
Viaduct 1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
1981
Gelatin silver print
© Daidō Moriyama

 

Daidō Moriyama (Japanese, born 1938) 'Untitled (Bottle)' from the series 'Light and Shadow' 1982

 

Daidō Moriyama (Japanese, born 1938)
Untitled (Bottle) from the series Light and Shadow
1982
Gelatin silver print
Image: 7 13/16 x 11 13/16 inches (19.8 x 30 cm)
Purchased with funds contributed by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, 1990
© Daidō Moriyama

 

 

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 equalising 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 modernisation, 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

 

Daidō Moriyama (Japanese, born 1938) 'Memory of Dog 2' 1981

 

Daidō Moriyama (Japanese, born 1938)
Memory of Dog 2
1981
Gelatin silver print
© Daidō Moriyama

 

Daidō Moriyama (Japanese, born 1938) 'Untitled' c. 1981-1985

 

Daidō Moriyama (Japanese, born 1938)
Untitled
c. 1981-1985
Gelatin silver print
Image: 8 1/4 x 11 7/8 inches (21 x 30.2 cm)
Purchased with funds contributed by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, 1990
© Daidō Moriyama

 

Daidō Moriyama (Japanese, born 1938) 'Untitled' from the series 'Light and Shadow' 1982

 

Daidō Moriyama (Japanese, born 1938)
Untitled from the series Light and Shadow
1982
Gelatin silver print
Image: 7 3/4 x 11 13/16 inches (19.7 x 30 cm)
Purchased with funds contributed by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, 1990
© Daidō Moriyama

 

Daido Moriyama. 'Untitled (Twin Chairs)' 1986

 

Daidō Moriyama (Japanese, born 1938)
Untitled (Twin Chairs)
1986
Gelatin silver print
© Daidō Moriyama

 

Daidō Moriyama (Japanese, born 1938) 'On the Road (Chair)' from the series 'Light and Shadow' 1981

 

Daidō Moriyama (Japanese, born 1938)
On the Road (Chair) from the series Light and Shadow
1981
Gelatin silver print
Image: 7 3/4 x 11 13/16 inches (19.7 x 30 cm)
Purchased with funds contributed by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, 1990
© Daidō Moriyama

 

 

“Since the 1960s Japanese photographer Daidō Moriyama (born 1938) has been making dynamic, often experimental images of modern urban life, establishing a reputation as one of the most important and exciting photographers of our time. The Philadelphia Museum of Art will present an exhibition of approximately 45 photographs by Moriyama, made in and around Tokyo in the 1980s, when the artist focused his mature aesthetic on the city with renewed intensity. The exhibition will be on view from February 28-June 30, 2009 in the Julien Levy Gallery at the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building.

Born in 1938 in Ikeda-cho (now Ikeda-shi), Osaka, Moriyama witnessed the dramatic changes that swept over Japan in the decades following World War II. After his father’s death in a train accident, he began working as a freelance graphic designer at age 20. He was intrigued by the graphic possibilities of screenprinting, the cheapest and most prolific form for printed imagery, and by international trends in contemporary art. These interests, along with attention to the various forms of visual stimuli that populate the urban landscape have been a hallmark of Moriyama’s career.

In 1960 Moriyama took up the study of photography under Takeji Iwamiya and one year later moved to Tokyo hoping to join the eminent photographers’ 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 modernisation. 

“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 modernisation, 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 equalising 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.”

Press release from the Philadelphia Museum of Art

 

Daidō Moriyama (Japanese, born 1938) 'Tunnel' 1982

 

Daidō Moriyama (Japanese, born 1938)
Tunnel
1982
Gelatin silver print
Image: 7 15/16 x 11 7/8 inches (20.2 x 30.2 cm)
Purchased with funds contributed by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, 1990
© Daidō Moriyama

 

Daidō Moriyama (Japanese, born 1938) 'Untitled' from the series 'Light and Shadow' 1982

 

Daidō Moriyama (Japanese, born 1938)
Untitled from the series Light and Shadow
1982
Gelatin silver print
Image: 7 3/4 × 11 3/4 inches (19.7 × 29.8 cm)
Purchased with funds contributed by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, 1990
© Daidō Moriyama

 

Daido Moriyama. 'Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, Midnight 1986'

 

Daidō Moriyama (Japanese, born 1938)
Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, Midnight
1986
Gelatin silver print
© Daidō Moriyama

 

 

Philadelphia Museum of Art
26th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday, 10.00 am – 5.00 pm
Wednesday and Friday open until 8:45 pm

Daido Moriyama website

Philadelphia Museum of Art website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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