Exhibition: ‘Fracture: Daido Moriyama’ at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

Exhibition dates: 7th April – 31st July 2012


Daido Moriyama. 'Street, Tokyo, Japan' 1981



How can we put this. The early black and white photographs are magnificent; the later colour photographs pedestrian and mundane. It is quite amazing how an artist with such skill and panache in the 1960s-1980s can run out of ideas and make such stock standard work 30 years later. Does the artist loose the talent, the energy or just the persistence of vision that made their earlier work so vibrant and alive, or did the work just emerge from the time / space / energy of the artist in that particular period, never to appear again?

Moriyama’s black and white photographs provide “a raw, restless vision of city life and the chaos of everyday existence, strange worlds, and unusual characters.” More than that, they plunge us into a mesmerising, hypnotic world where the viewer is immersed in a fractured dream / scape / space. Kagerou (Mayfly) (1972, below) is just such an example of this holographic, bugs caught in amber view of our world; the dirty footed, fleeing creature in Untitled (woman in white dress running) (1971, below) confirms this ambiguity, the trapped animal caught by the flash of the camera. Strange, haunting and evocative, Moriyama’s black and white photographs project the derangement of the world onto the psyche of the viewer, producing an abnormal condition of the mind that promotes a loss of contact with reality. The colour photographs never stand a chance against such life changing affirmations.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

Many thankx to the Los Angeles County 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. 'Street, Tokyo, Japan' 1981


Daido Moriyama. 'Untitled' 2011


Daido Moriyama. 'Untitled' 2011


Daido Moriyama. 'Untitled' 2011


Daido Moriyama. 'Kagerou (Mayfly)' 1972


Daido Moriyama. 'Untitled' 2011


Daido Moriyama. 'Untitled' 2011



The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents Fracture: Daido Moriyama, the first solo museum exhibition of photographer Daido Moriyama (b. 1938) to be shown in Los Angeles. Moriyama first came to prominence in the mid-1960s with his gritty depictions of Japanese urban life. His highly innovative and intensely personal photographic approach often incorporates high contrast, graininess, and tilted vantages to convey the fragmentary nature of modern realities.

Spanning his early years to present day, the show features nearly fifty works, including a range of Moriyama’s renowned black-and-white photographs, his many important photo books, and the debut of recent colour work taken in Tokyo.

“Daido Moriyama’s immensely inventive and prolific achievements make him one of the leading photographers of our era. Inspiring viewers and artists world-wide, Moriyama continues to demonstrate a raw and restless exploration of the fractured realities of modern times, including his most recent colour work, appearing for the first time,” observes Edward Robinson, associate curator of LACMA’s Wallis Annenberg Photography Department and curator of the exhibition.


Exhibition overview

Responding to the rapid changes that transformed post-World War II Japan, Daido Moriyama’s black-and-white works express a fascination with the cultural contradictions of age-old traditions persisting within modern society, along with the effects of westernisation and consumerism.

Providing a raw, restless vision of city life and the chaos of everyday existence, strange worlds, and unusual characters, Moriyama frequently photographs while on walks through Tokyo – particularly the dark, labyrinthine streets of the Shinjuku district – as well as when traveling on Japan’s postwar highways and during strolls through other urban centers in Japan and abroad. His work suggests the bold intuition informing the artist’s ongoing exploration of urban mystery, memory, and photographic invention.

Fracture: Daido Moriyama will display the artist’s iconic black-and-white photographs, exemplifying the are, bure, boke (grainy, blurry, out-offocus) style, in addition to a new installation of recent colour work. An accompanying video will feature documentary footage of the photographer at work, exploring by foot and responding to the vibrant cityscape of Tokyo. Also on view will be a selection of books – Moriyama has published more than forty to date – which highlights the artist’s highly influential experimentation with reproduction media and the transformative possibilities of the printed page.


About Daido Moriyama

Born in Ikeda, Osaka, Moriyama trained in graphic design, then took up photography with Takeji Iwaniya, a professional photographer of architecture and crafts. Moving to Tokyo in 1961, he assisted photographer Eikoh Hosoe for three years and became familiar with the trenchant societal critiques produced by photographer Shomei Tomatsu. Moriyama also drew inspiration from William Klein’s confrontational photographs of New York, Andy Warhol’s silkscreened multiples of newspaper images, and the writings of Jack Kerouac and Yukio Mishima.

His work has been collected by numerous public and private collections internationally, including LACMA, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Moriyama has had recent major solo shows at The Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, Paris, The Fotomuseum, Winterthur, Switzerland, the Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Tokyo, and will be exhibited with William Klein at the Tate Modern this fall.

Press release from the LACMA website


Daido Moriyama. 'Untitled' 2002


Daido Moriyama. 'Love Motel, Miyagi Prefecture' 1970


Daido Moriyama. 'Shinjuku #11' 2000


Daido Moriyama. 'Untitled (woman in white dress running)' 1971



Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
5905 Wilshire Boulevard (at Fairfax Avenue)
Los Angeles, CA, 90036
Phone: 323 857-6000

Opening hours:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday: 11am – 5pm
Friday: 11am – 8pm
Saturday, Sunday: 10am – 7pm
Closed Wednesday

LACMA website


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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

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