Shomei Tomatsu

Skin of the Nation
May 13, 2006–October 15, 2007

Little known outside his home country, Shomei Tomatsu is widely considered the most important figure in Japanese postwar photography. His photographs span more than 50 years, examining, in an absolutely personal and unique vision, the island nation in the years since World War II. Cinematic in scope and presentation, the approximately 240 photographs on view in Skin of the Nation — the first major American retrospective of Tomatsu’s work — provide a candid look at the aftereffects of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, the influence of American military and popular culture, and the impact of the post-1960s economic boom in Japan. Comprising black-and-white as well as color pictures, the exhibition conveys a quiet brilliance, celebrating the photographer’s uncompromising regard toward a complex, nuanced subject.

This exhibition is organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in association with the Japan Society, New York. This exhibition is generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Allan Alcorn, Linda and Jon Gruber, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, Bob and Randi Fisher, the Blakemore Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. William S. Fisher, Prentice and Paul Sack, Ellen Ramsey Sanger, The Japan Foundation, and Fuji Photo Film Co., Ltd. This exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Ellen Ramsey Sanger.

National Endowment for the Arts

Shomei Tomatsu, Eiko Oshima, Actress in the Film “Shiiku” (Prize Stock), 1961; collection SFMOMA, gift of the Kurenboh Collection; © Shomei Tomatsu – INTERFACE