From darkly fascinating photographs of ravens to humorous self-portraits, Fukase created images of enormous emotional power
Among the most radical and original photographers of his generation, Masahisa Fukase was famous for The Solitude of Ravens (1986), in which these birds of doom, in flocks or alone, blacken the pages of the book in inky, somber, calligraphic clusters; in 2010 it was voted the best photobook of the past 25 years by the British Journal of Photography. Fukase also has a lesser-known corpus of collages, self-portraits, photographs reworked as sketches, black-and-white prints, Polaroids and more. This book brings together all of his work for the very first time.
Its editors, Simon Baker, director of the Maison européenne de la photographie, Paris, and Tomo Kosuga, director of the Masahisa Fukase Archives, Tokyo, have assembled 26 series from Fukase's oeuvre, including Memories of Father; The Solitude of Ravens; his portraits of cats; his famous self-portraits taken in a bathtub with a waterproof camera; and many previously unpublished works. Fukase tried his hand at everything, and this essential volume, at more than 400 pages, at last reveals the full breadth of his imagination in an English-language publication.
Born in 1934 on the island of Hokkaido, in the north of Japan, into a family of studio photographers, Masahisa Fukase began a career as a freelance reporter in the late 1960s. In 1971 he published his first photography book, consisting of group portraits of his family. In 1974, he cofounded the Workshop Photography School with Shomei Tomatsu, Eikoh Hosoe, Noriaki Yokosuka, Nobuyoshi Araki and Daido Moriyama; that same year, MoMA in New York dedicated a milestone exhibition to them (New Japanese Photography). In 1992, at the age of 58, following a fall, Fukase was maintained on life support until his death in 2012.