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Text by Juan Vicente Ariaga, Ryuichi Kaneko, Hiromi Kojima, Carlos Martín García.
"Shomei Tomatsu is the pivotal figure of recent Japanese photography." –John Szarkowski
Casting a cold eye on postwar Japan, the raw, grainy and impressionistic photography of Shomei Tomatsu practically defined Japanese photography in the second half of the 20th century, greatly influencing Daido Moriyama, Nobuyoshi Araki and Takuma Nakihara. His best-known images are his portraits of people and street scenes from the 1950s, when the country struggled to recover from World War II and US military presence was ubiquitous; his photographs of 1960s Japan; and throughout his career, his images of Okinawa, where he died in 2012. Tomatsu's most famous single photograph is probably Melted Bottle, Nagasaki, 1961, which depicts a beer bottle rendered grotesquely biomorphic by the nuclear blast that devastated Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. The American photographer and writer Leo Rubinfien described Tomatsu's Nagasaki images as "sad, haggard facts," noting that "beneath the surface there was a grief so great that any overt expression of sympathy would have been an insult."
This book, which accompanies a major retrospective at MAPFRE in Barcelona, elucidates the rich visual universe of Tomatsu, including his best-known images and previously unpublished work. It is the first comprehensive survey to be published since his death.
Born in Nagoya, Japan, Shomei Tomatsu (1930–2012) began his career in the early 1950s as a traditional photojournalist. He played a central role in Vivo, a self-managed photography agency, and founded the publishing house Shaken and the quarterly journal Ken. Tomatsu participated in the groundbreaking New Japanese Photography exhibition in 1974 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; his most recent US survey, The Skin of the Nation, was held at SFMOMA in 2006.
Featured image is reproduced from 'Shomei Tomatsu.'
PRAISE AND REVIEWS
American occupation, Surrealism, protest, and sexual liberation all entered Tomatsu’s visual language as he photographed American soldiers along Okinawa streets, wounded Japanese citizens, and prostitutes in Tokyo.
New York Times
Shomei Tomatsu is a torrent of images, primarily black-and-white, that are off-kilter, aggressive, meditative, bleak, stark, enigmatic, erotic or any combination thereof, each of them not just a window into a time and a place but a terse and unanswerable statement.
STATUS: Out of stock indefinitely.
FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 9/26/2018
Featured image, from Shomei Tomatsu's 1962 Blood and Roses, Shinjuku, Tokyo series, is reproduced from RM & Fundación Mapfre's stunning new monograph on the influential Japanese photographer. "There is nothing hackneyed about Tomatsu's representations of the body and of sex," Juan Vicente Aliaga writes. "He opts for unusual framings in which the bodies seem fragmented, incomplete, often seen from the back, projecting a sense of discomfort. We are far from any complacent vision of a harmonious reality… A vague sensation of unreality floats in these images. There are more shadows than clarity; a sense of emptiness and unease… but also anger and protest." continue to blog
FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 12/4/2018
"Protest, Shinjuku, Tokyo" (1969) is reproduced from Shomei Tomatsu, one of just ten killer photobooks on Luc Sante's 2018 New York Times Book Review Holiday Gift Guide. The book "is a torrent of images," he writes, "primarily black-and-white, that are off-kilter, aggressive, meditative, bleak, stark, enigmatic, erotic or any combination thereof, each of them not just a window into a time and a place but a terse and unanswerable statement." Congratulations to the co-publishers, Editorial RM and Fundación MAPFRE!
continue to blog