Golden Age: Five Masters of Japanese Photography

18 July - 20 September 2020 Beijing
Duration: 18th Jul 2020 - 20th Sep 2020
Location: Three Shadows Photography Art Centre (155A Caochangdi, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100015)
Organizer: Three Shadows Photography Art Centre
Special Co-organizer: Chengdu Contemporary Image Museum, Masahisa Fukase Archives
Supporters: Japan Embassy in China, Daido Moriyama Photo Foundation, Eikoh Hosoe Laboratory of Photographic Arts 
Special Thanks: Tomo Kosuga, Sohey Moriyama, Tomoka Aya, 
Strasbourg, Jyo- gen Izakaya
Artists: Nobuyoshi Araki, Daido Moriyama, Masahisa Fukase, Miyako Ishiuchi, Eikoh Hosoe
The exhibition is supported by the Japan Foundation Beijing as one of the “2020 Sino-Japanese Photography Exchange Festival” program.

Influenced by culture, politics, economics, and other factors, we as humans retain a sense of mental distance, and the thing we call reality produces an understanding that encompasses many different elements. This transcends the visual and points to a mental interaction. At the same time, we can only perceive the world through these appearances; it’s simply our mode of existence.
——Koji Taki, “The Metaphor of the Eye”
“Golden Age: Five Masters of Japanese Photography” presents 118 classic photographs by Nobuyoshi Araki, Daido Moriyama, Masahisa Fukase, Miyako Ishiuchi, and Eikoh Hosoe. They emerged in Japan in the 1960s and 1970s, and influenced by their predecessors, they contributed fresh ways of working to the development of Japanese photography. They are now considered a golden generation that is influential even today.
The exhibition presents the photographers’ most familiar and important works (Moriyama’s Hunter, Araki’s Sentimental Journey, Hosoe’s Ordeal by Roses, and Fukase’s Ravens), as well as Ishiuchi’s Moving Away, shown publicly for the first time. The exhibition does not follow a chronological path; the three sections “Under the Burning Sun,” “Eros and Provocation,” and “Eternal Void” link nearly fifty years of personal development that falls under these larger historical labels.
“Under the Burning Sun” presents pieces that show how the photographers’ times influenced their work. Eikoh Hosoe reconstructs childhood memories in Kamaitachi while Daido Moriyama captures the suffocating feeling of Tokyo’s back streets. “Eros and provocation” is fascinating and beautiful. Setting aside body politics, the works in this section give a wonderful response to the depression and gloom of the larger environment through the power of individuals and the beauty of their limbs.
Everything ends. Even the creators of this golden era have departed from stagnant history and confronted ordinary themes, such as the deaths of family members or self-exploration, all alone. “Eternal Void” presents a somewhat indeterminate conclusion. The peace of Ishiuchi’s beautiful street scenes extends to the present in which we find ourselves, but it also forces us to recognize that era is long gone.
Every generation of young people feels that the previous generation was full of rising stars, while their feet are still stuck in the mud, but what does it matter? As Takahiko Okada wrote in a poem in the final issue of Provoke:
No need to rush down the road.
Those who fear making mistakes always perish.
The value they have to threaten the morrow is an illusion.
If you freeze the wind’s shadow, you will flinch at its vulgarity...
No need to rush down the road.
Nobuyoshi Araki

Born in Tokyo in 1940, Nobuyoshi Araki completed his studies at Chiba University’s Department of Photography, Printing and Engineering with a focus on the study of film and photography. His photographic project “Satchin” earned him the prestigious Taiyo Award in 1964, and shortly after he joined the advertising agency Dentsu, where he worked until 1972. At Dentsu he met his wife Yoko, to whom he paid homage in Sentimental Journey, a photographic record of their honeymoon published in 1971. The interplay of eros and thanatos (sex and death) has been central theme in Araki’s work, which has also been driven by abiding fascinations with female genitalia and women’s bodies in Japanese bondage, flowers, food, his cat, faces, and Tokyo street scenes.


His solo exhibitions include “Araki,”  Musée National des Arts Asiatiques Guimet, Paris (2016); “Ōjō Shashū: Photography for the Afterlife – Faces, Skyscapes, Roads,” Toyota Municipal Museum of Art (2014); “Nobuyoshi Araki Photobook Exhibition: Arākī,” IZU PHOTO MUSEUM, Shizuoka (2012); “NOBUYOSHI ARAKI: Self, Life, Death,” The Barbican Art Gallery, London (2005); “Hana- Jinsei,” Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (2003); “Tokyo Still Life,” Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2001); “Nobuyoshi Araki,” Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Gent (2000); “ARAKI Nobuyoshi Sentimental Photography, Sentimental Life,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (1999); “Tokyo Comedy,” Wiener Secession, Vienna (1997); “Journal intime,” Fondation Cartier pour l’art Contemporain, Paris (1995); and “Akt-Tokyo: Nobuyoshi Araki 1971-1991,” Forum Stadtpark, Graz (1992). Araki is a recipient of the Austrian Decoration of Honor for Science and Arts (2008) and the 54th Mainichi Art Award (2012).

Daido Moriyama

Daido Moriyama was born in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture in 1938 and currently lives and works in Tokyo.  He first trained in graphic design before taking up photography under Takeji Iwamiya and Eikoh Hosoe, working as an assistant. He became an independent photographer in 1964 and was involved with Provoke magazine. In 1972, he published both Nippon Gekijō Shashinchō (Japan: A Photo Theater) and Shashin yo Sayounara (Farewell Photography), showing the dark underbelly of urban life. He has had a radical impact on the worlds of photography and art in both Japan and in the West with his expressive “are, bure, boke” style (“rough, blurred, and out-of-focus”),characterized by his quick snapshots that sometimes come from forsaking the viewfinder entirely.


His solo exhibitions include “William Klein + Daido Moriyama,” Tate Modern, London (2012); “On the Road,” The National Museum of Art, Osaka (2011);  Foam, Amsterdam (2006); Fondation Cartier pour l’art Contemporain, Paris (2003); Fotomuseum Winterthur (2000); and San Francisco MoMA (1999). He is a recipient of The Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography (2019); the Lifetime Achievement award at the 28th Annual Infinity Awards from International Center of Photography, New York (2012); The Culture Award from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Photographie, Cologne (2004); The Photographic Society of Japan Lifetime Achievement Award (2004); the Mainichi Art Award (2003) and the Japan Photo Critics Association Newcomer’s Award (1967).



Masahisa Fukase

Masahisa Fukase (1934–2012) is considered one of the most radical and experimental photographers of the post-war generation in Japan. He became world-renowned for his photo series and  book titled Karasu (known in English as Ravens, 1975-1985), which is widely celebrated as a photographic masterpiece. And yet the larger part of his oeuvre remained largely inaccessible for over two decades. In 1992 a tragic fall left the artist with permanent brain damage, and it was only after his death in 2012 that his archives gradually came to light. Since then a wealth of material has surfaced that had never been shown before.


Fukase was born in Hokkaido in 1934, the son of a successful local studio photographer. He graduated from Nihon University College of Art’s Photography Department in 1956, and became a freelance photographer in 1968 following brief stints at the Nippon Design Center and Kawade Shobo Shinsha Publishers.


His work has been exhibited widely at institutions such as MoMA, New York; the Oxford Museum of Modern Art; the Foundation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain; and the Victoria & Albert Museum. His work is held in major collections including that of the Victoria & Albert Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Getty Museum. He is also the winner of prizes including the 2nd Ina Nobuo Award, as well as the Special Award at the 8th Higashikawa Photography Awards.

Ishiuchi Miyako

Ishiuchi Miyako was born in 1947 in Kiryu, Gunma Prefecture. In 1966 she began studying design and textiles at Tama Art University and went on to produce a series of acclaimed photographic works, including Yokosuka Story, Mother’s and Apartment. She has consistently addressed themes such as existence and absence, people’s memories, and vestiges of time.


Her solo exhibitions and group exhibitions include "Yokosuka Story," Ginza Nikon Salon, Tokyo (1977); "Apartment," Ginza Nikon Salon, Tokyo (1978); “Japanese Art After 1945: Scream Against the Sky,” Guggenheim Museum, New York (1994); “Miyako Ishiuchi: Time Textured in Monochrome,” The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (1999); "Mother's 2000-2005 - Traces of the Future," The 51st International Art Exhibition of la Biennale Venezia, Venice (2005); “Postwar Shadows,” the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (2015); "Frida is" Shiseido Gallery, Tokyo (2015); and “Grain and Shadow,” Yokohama Museum of Art, Yokohama, Japan (2017).


She is a recipient of the Kimura Ihei Award (1979), the Higashikawa Prize, the Domestic Photographer Prize (1999), the Society of Photographer Award (1999), The Photographic Society of Japan (2006),  the Mainichi Art Award (2009), a Medal of Honor, Purple Ribbon (2013), and the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography (2014).

Eikoh Hosoe

Eikoh Hosoe was born in 1933 in Yamagata Prefecture. In 1951, Hosoe won the top prize for students in the Fujifilm-sponsored “Fuji Photo Contest.”  He graduated from the Tokyo Junior College of Photography (now known as Tokyo Polytechnic University) in 1954, and in 1956 held his first solo exhibition, An American Girl in Tokyo. In 1957, he participated in the exhibition The Eyes of Ten, organized by photography critic Tatsuo Fukushima. This show introduced Hosoe to the photographers Kikuji Kawada, Akira Sato, Akira Tanno, Shomei Tomatsu and Ikko Narahara, and together they formed the independent photo agency VIVO. This agency positioned itself in opposition to the then-popular realist movement in Japanese photography, and instead developed more personal and subjective modes of photographic expression.


At the beginning of Hosoe’s career in the 1950s, he produced many important works depicting people, and he won the Japan Photo Critics Association Newcomer’s Award for his 1960 solo exhibition Man and Woman. His 1963 work Barakei (Ordeal by Roses), featuring the author Yukio Mishima as a model, elicited a huge response, and Hosoe was eventually recognized with the Japan Photo Critics Association Artist Award. His 1970 work Kamaitachi (which means “sickle-toothed weasel”), produced in a farming village in the Akita Prefecture with the butoh dancer Tatsumi Hijikata, won The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture’s Arts Encouragement Prize. Hosoe has an esteemed reputation both at home and abroad: among his awards include The Medal with Purple Ribbon (1998), The Royal Photographic Society Special 150th Anniversary Medal Award (2003), The Order of the Rising Sun (2007), the Mainichi Art Award (2008), The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star (2017), and a designation as a Person of Cultural Merit by the Ministry of Education in 2010.