Radical Japanese Photography From the 1960s and ’70s

Early photography in Japan focused on commercial endeavors and represented a Western image of traditional Asian culture. Pioneering photographers like Tamamura Kōzaburō and Ogawa Kazumasa created a shift in artistic representation during the modernized Meiji period (late 19th to early 20th centuries). But the late 1960s through the 1970s saw a radical change in Japanese photography that created a new visual language, laying the groundwork for the country’s contemporary art scene. Luminaries including Ishiuchi Miyako, Daidō Moriyama, Jirō Takamatsu, and Shōmei Tōmatsu focused on experimental and conceptual imagery. Social and political unrest drew the eye, as seen in the photos of student protestors by Kōji Taki, as well as Shōmei Tōmatsu’s images of life surrounding the American military bases on Okinawa. Japan Society’s For a New World to Come: Experiments in Japanese Art and Photography, 1968-1979 is the first major exhibition devoted to this vital chapter in the country’s cultural history. The show closes Sunday, January 10.