The Provoke Era

Postwar Japanese Photography
September 12–December 20, 2009

The tumultuous period following World War II proved fertile ground for a generation of Japanese photographers who responded to societal upheaval by creating a new visual language dubbed “Are, Bure, Boke” — rough, blurred, and out of focus. Named for the magazine Provoke, which sought to break the rules of traditional photography, this exhibition traces how Japanese photographers responded to their country’s shifting social and political atmosphere. Though American audiences may be less familiar with photographers like Masahisa Fukase, Eikoh Hosoe, Daido Moriyama, and Shomei Tomatsu, SFMOMA has been actively acquiring the work of these internationally recognized artists since the 1970s. The works in the show all come from the SFMOMA collection, considered one of the preeminent holdings of Japanese photography in the United States.

This exhibition is organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and is generously supported by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.

Black and white photograph of an Asian man and woman, Hosoe
Black and white photograph, Tsuchida
Black and white photography, Fukase
Black and white photograph of a stray dog, Daido Moriyama

Eikoh Hosoe, Man and Woman #20, 1960; collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; © Eikoh Hosoe

Hiromi Tsuchida, Ise, Mie Prefecture, from the series ZOKUSHIN: Gods of the Earth, 1972; collection SFMOMA, gift of Launny and Weezie Steffens; © Hiromi Tsuchida

Masahisa Fukase, Seikan Ferryboat, from the series Ravens, 1976; collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; © Masahisa Fukase

Daido Moriyama, Misawa, 1971; collection SFMOMA, gift of Van Deren Coke; © Daido Moriyama