Posts Tagged ‘snapshot


Exhibition: ‘Metamorphosis of Japan after the War: Photography 1945-1964’ at the Berlin Museum of Photography

Exhibition dates: 9th March – 17th June 2012


Eikoh Hosoe. 'Barakei (Ordeal by Roses), No. 16' 1961


Eikoh Hosoe (Japanese, b. 1933)
Barakei (Ordeal by Roses), No. 16
Gelatin silver print
© Eikoh Hosoe



The joy of the discharged soldier (upon survival); the regimentation of the market place; the inquisitiveness of youth.
The blackness (incineration) of the body; the blackest sun; the memorial of mapping.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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


Tadahiko Hayashi. 'Discharged soldiers, Shinagawa Station' Tokyo 1946


Tadahiko Hayashi (Japanese, 1918-1990)
Discharged soldiers, Shinagawa Station
Tokyo 1946
Gelatin silver print
© Yoshikatsu Hayashi


Shigeichi Nagano. 'Completing management training at a stock brokerage firm' Tokyo 1961


Shigeichi Nagano (Japanese, b. 1925)
Completing management training at a stock brokerage firm
Tokyo 1961
Gelatin silver print
© Shigeichi Nagano


Ken Domon. 'Children looking at a picture-card show' Tokyo 1953


Ken Domon (Japanese, 1909-1990)
Children looking at a picture-card show
Tokyo 1953
Gelatin silver print
© Ken Domon Museum of Photography



On August 15th, 1945 the Pacific War came to an end and with it fourteen years of bombings, of deprivation and of great sacrifice for the Japanese people. The collapse of Japanese militaristic rule and the arrival of the US occupation forces thrust the nation into a new and uncertain era. It was in this context that photography took on a central role in the nation’s rediscovery of self and it soon became a vital contributor to Japanese society in the immediate postwar years. Metamorphosis of Japan after the War. Photography 1945-1964 reveals the changing face of life in Japan from the end of the Pacific War in 1945 to the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964 through photographs by 11 of Japan’s leading post-war photographers. By observing the role of photography in the evolution of post-war Japan, this exhibition shows how photography was able to play a crucial role in the search for the nation’s new identity. The works of these 11 photographers are an extraordinary document of the birth of a new Japan and of a new photographic generation whose dynamism and creativity laid the foundations for modern Japanese photography. The exhibition is divided into 3 thematic sections based around the major periods of the postwar years:


The aftermath of war

With the end of the war magazines and newspapers flourished as years of censorship gave way to an editorial boom. Publications that had been banned during the war resurfaced just as new ones went to press for the first time. Improvements in printing techniques also allowed the mass production and distribution of publications containing photographic reproductions. Photographs played a central role in this information boom, as people sought objectivity in the place of the military propaganda that they had been subjected to for several years. People turned to photography to find the ‘truth’ that they sought. This photographic explosion brought about a profound reflection on the nature of the medium and on its role in society. The public’s demand for objectivity led to the emergence of a powerful social realism movement in the immediate post-war years. The atrocities of the war and the massive physical destruction of the country led photographers to adopt a direct approach and to focus on bearing witness and documenting what they saw around them. Photographers abandoned pictorialism and the propaganda techniques of the wartime years to immerse themselves in reality. Of those photographers who had already been active in the pre-war years including Domon Ken, Hamaya Hiroshi, Kimura Ihee and Hayashi Tadahiko, Domon became the leading proponent of the photo-realism movement. He advocated “the pure snapshot, absolutely unstaged” and urged photographers to “pay attention to the screaming voice of the subject and simply operate the camera exactly according to its indications.” As a regular contributor to Camera magazine, he became very active in the world of amateur photography and encouraged camera club members to follow this realist path.


Tradition versus modernity

Despite its predominance in the immediate post-war years, the social realist movement was not to last. It captured a specific moment in time when the nation needed to take stock of the Pacific War and of its consequences. Photographers increasingly began to view the movement as too rigid and heavily politicised. Hamaya for instance chose to break away and adopted a new approach, both in terms of style and subject, when he began his work on the coast of the Sea of Japan, leading to the series Yukiguni (Snow country) and Ura Nihon (Japan’s Back Coast). In these series Hamaya displayed a more humanist approach than seen in social realism and chose to focus instead on a timeless aspect of Japanese rural society, rather than on the social issues linked directly to the immediate post-war. By the mid 1950s many photographers were turning away from documenting the destruction of the war to focus on the stark contrast between ‘traditional’ Japan and the modernisation of Japanese society associated with the American occupation. The hardships of the 1940s were rapidly replaced with rapid industrialisation and economic growth as Japan was modernised. These changes had a deep impact as Japan’s complex social structures were thrown into upheaval with the country’s economic transformation. Photographers focused not only on capturing the emergence of this new economic and social paradigm in Japan’s cities, but also sought to document those areas of Japan which were less affected by modernisation and offered a window onto the country’s past.


A new Japan

In addition during the second half of the 1950s a new generation of photographers was coming of age. They had grown up during the war but were only beginning to find their photographic eye during the post-war years. From this generation, a new photographic approach referred to as ‘subjective documentary’ was born. In 1959, the most innovative photographers of the time founded the agency Vivo which, despite its short lifespan, was to become a key contributor to the evolution of Japanese photography. With photographers such as Narahara Ikko, Tomatsu Shomei, Kawada Kikuji or Hosoe Eikoh, Vivo put forward the idea that personal experience and interpretation were essential elements in the value of a photographic image. These photographers developed a particular sensibility influenced by ‘traditional’ Japan as well as by the turbulence of postwar reconstruction and the explosion of economic growth. Their photographic eye turned both to the past, to the Japan of their childhood that they saw disappearing, and to the future and the ever-increasing modernisation that was transforming Japanese society. Over 10 years after the atomic bombings, this new generation of photographers also began to engage with the legacy of these events and their future significance, both for Japan and for all of humanity. The series that emerged including Kawada’s Chizu (The Map), Hosoe’s Kamaitachi and Tomatsu’s Nagasaki 11:02, are amongst some of the most powerful statements in twentieth century photography.

Press release from the Berlin Museum of Photography


Takeyoshi Tanuma. 'Dancers resting on the rooftop of the SKD Theatre' Asakusa, Tokyo 1949


Takeyoshi Tanuma (Japanese, b. 1929)
Dancers resting on the rooftop of the SKD Theatre
Asakusa, Tokyo 1949
Gelatin silver print
© Takeyoshi Tanuma


Ikko Narahara. 'Domains. Garden of Silence, No. 52' Hakodate, Hokkaido 1958


Ikko Narahara (Japanese, 1931-2020)
Domains. Garden of Silence, No. 52
Hakodate, Hokkaido 1958
Gelatin silver print
© Ikko Narahara


Keisuke Katano. 'Woman planting rice' 1955


Keisuke Katano (Japanese)
Woman planting rice
Gelatin silver print
© Keisuke Katano


Shomei Tomatsu. 'Fukuejima Island Nagasaki' 1963


Shomei Tomatsu (Japanese, 1930-2012)
Fukuejima Island
Nagasaki 1963
Gelatin silver print
© The Japan Foundation


Kikuji Kawada. 'The Map. The A-Bomb Memorial Dome and Ohta River Hiroshima' 1960-65


Kikuji Kawada (Japanese, b. 1933)
The Map. The A-Bomb Memorial Dome and Ohta River
Hiroshima 1960-65
Gelatin silver print
© Kikuji Kawada



Berlin Museum of Photography
Jebensstraße 2
10623 Berlin

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 6pm
Closed Mondays

Berlin Museum of Photography website


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Exhibition: ‘The Three Graces’ at The Art Institute of Chicago

Exhibition dates: 29th October 2011 – 22nd January 2012


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



Artist unknown c. 1930s


Artist unknown
c. 1930s
Gelatin silver print
8.9 x 14.7 cm
The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Peter J. Cohen


Artist unknown. 'Look Pleasant' c. 1910s


Artist unknown
Look Pleasant
c. 1910s
Gelatin silver print
8.9 x 8.6 cm
The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Peter J. Cohen


Artist unknown c. 1910s


Artist unknown
c. 1910s
Gelatin silver print
11.6 x 6.8 cm
The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Peter J. Cohen



This exhibition explores the early years of vernacular photography through graceful snapshots of female trios. Displaying more than 500 “found” images the exhibition features photographs of celebrations, vacations, and gatherings of family and friends are taken and kept with the aim of preserving moments in life for future generations. What happens, however, when a snapshot becomes an image “type” – transferred into the hands of a collector and folded into a broader cultural history?

This subject is explored in the Art Institute of Chicago’s The Three Graces – on view October 29, 2011, through January 22, 2012, in the museum’s Photography Galleries 3 and 4. The exhibition, featuring a private collection of more than 500 anonymous images depicting female trios, spans nearly a century of female role-playing for the camera. These mostly American “found” photographs, spanning from the 1890s to the 1970s, collectively reveal a great deal about the evolving ritual of women’s self-presentation, a theme already idealised in Classical culture with depictions of “The Three Graces.”

New York collector Peter J. Cohen, who has spent decades scouring flea markets, shops, and galleries in search of rare amateur photographs, amassed this image collection and gave it its title. Cohen was struck by the frequency of images featuring female trios, and had the wit to identify in them a playful echo of the Greek muses Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thalia, who are said to personify beauty, charm, and grace in both nature and humanity. Cohen owns some 20,000 anonymous snapshots spanning from the late 19th century until the 1970s. He has organised his mountainous holdings according to many classifications, among them “Double Exposures,” “Up on The Roof,” and “Dangerous Women.”

For Art Institute exhibition coordinator Michal Raz-Russo, who also authored the accompanying book, the “three graces” theme serves as a frame through which to chart shifts and continuities in women’s self-understanding across nearly a century. The 1888 introduction of the Kodak #1 camera and the 1900 debut of the Kodak Brownie made photography immensely popular, with much of the marketing was directed at women. Modern life and leisure in the 1920s coincided with the arrival of smaller cameras, faster film speeds, and automatic exposures; women of the expanding middle class became practiced at self-portraiture while vacationing or camping on their own. Later, in the mid-20th century, a clear convergence can be seen between women’s self-portraits and ideals of womanhood promulgated in films and glossy magazines. Throughout this history, men are clearly at work too, convincing women to participate in erotic poses according to another set of visual models. While the varieties of picturing and self-picturing are complex, The Three Graces demonstrates that women worked to define themselves as social beings through photography.

Visitors to the exhibition can find information on individual snapshots – gleaned from inscriptions and the clues provided by clothing and setting – at a special computer kiosk located in the gallery.

Press release from The Art Institute of Chicago website


Artist unknown c. 1920s


Artist unknown
c. 1920s
Gelatin silver print
13.5 x 8.3 cm
The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Peter J. Cohen


Artist unknown c. 1930s


Artist unknown
c. 1930s
Gelatin silver print
14.5 x 8.7 cm
The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Peter J. Cohen


Artist unknown c. 1940s


Artist unknown
c. 1940s
Gelatin silver print
11.7 x 7 cm
The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Peter J. Cohen


Artist unknown c. 1940s


Artist unknown
c. 1940s
Gelatin silver print
12.2 x 7.6 cm
The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Peter J. Cohen



The Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60603-6404
Phone: (312) 443-3600

Opening hours:
Monday – Wednesday 10.30am – 5.00pm
Thursday 10.30am – 8.00pm (Free Admission 5.00 – 8.00, member-only access to Matisse)
Friday 10.30am – 8.00pm
Saturday – Sunday 10.00am – 5.00pm
The museum is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s days.

The Art Institute of Chicago website


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Exhibition: ‘Potraiture Now: Feature Photography’ at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington

Exhibition dates: 26th November 2008 – 27th September 2009


Jocelyn Lee. "Untitled (Kara on Easter)" 1999


Jocelyn Lee
Untitled (Kara on Easter)
Chromogenic print
 Jocelyn Lee



“America is a snapshot culture. Armed with a portable camera and a spirit of inquiry, we revel in the images that we create. Although we often treat still photographs – including portraits – as ephemeral fragments to be discarded or replaced by the next image, there are portrait photographers today who create pictures that defy an easy death. Often working on a specific commission or editorial assignment, these photographers compose portraits that cause us to pause and reflect.”

Portraiture Now: Feature Photography focuses on six photographers who, by working on assignment for publications such as the New Yorker, Esquire, and the New York Times Magazine, each bring their distinctive “take” on contemporary portraiture to a broad audience. Critically acclaimed for their independent fine-art work, these photographers – Katy Grannan, Jocelyn Lee, Ryan McGinley, Steve Pyke, Martin Schoeller, and Alec Soth – have also pursued a variety of editorial projects, taking advantage of the opportunities and grappling with the parameters that these assignments introduce. Their work builds upon a longstanding tradition of photographic portraiture for the popular press and highlights creative possibilities for twenty-first-century portrayal. The exhibition has additional portraits not included in this website; it opened on November 26, 2008, and closed on September 27, 2009.”

Text from the National Portrait Gallery website




Alec Soth
Part of the Niagara project
Pigmented ink print
Collection of the artist
Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York City
© Alec Soth



National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Eighth and F Streets, NW
Washington D.C.

Opening hours:
11.30 am – 7.00 pm daily

National Portrait Gallery 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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