SAN FRANCISCO, CA (August 11, 2016)—The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) will highlight Japanese photography in two exhibitions at the newly expanded museum this fall—Japanese Photography from Postwar to Now and New Work: Sohei Nishino. These exhibitions celebrate the museum’s commitment to the profoundly important work made by Japanese photographers from the time of postwar renewal in the 1950s to present day.
Japanese Photography from Postwar to Now
On view October 15, 2016–March 12, 2017
This exhibition will highlight SFMOMA’s considerable collection of Japanese photography, focusing on gifts and promised gifts to the museum through the Campaign for Art, notably the important donation of more than 400 works from the Kurenboh Collection, Tokyo. Featuring nearly 200 works from the museum’s collection, Japanese Photography from Postwar to Now will be on view in the new Pritzker Center for Photography.
“We have received a tremendous outpouring of support from the community through the museum’s Campaign for Art, including several notable gifts of Japanese photography on view in this exhibition, that further strengthens SFMOMA’s Japanese photography collection as the finest outside of Japan,” said Sandra S. Phillips, curator emerita of photography at SFMOMA.
One of the most significant contributions to photography came from postwar Japan. In the years after World War II, the country began producing film and camera equipment, supporting a large amateur photography culture and sponsoring local photographers as important artistic producers. The photographs presented will range from the 1960s, when major figures such as Shomei Tomatsu and Daido Moriyama investigated Americanization and industrial growth, to the more personal and performative work of Nobuyoshi Araki and Eikoh Hosoe through today, with artists addressing contemporary culture and the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Organized thematically, the show will explore topics such as Japan’s relationship with America, changes in the cities and countryside and the emergence of women—especially Miyako Ishiuchi, Rinko Kawauchi and Lieko Shiga—as significant contributors to contemporary Japanese photography. The exhibition will also include various forms of photography from daguerreotypes to chromogenic prints to photomontage, as well as more than 20 important photography books.
Support for Japanese Photography from Postwar to Now is provided by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation and the Japan Foundation.
New Work: Sohei Nishino
On view November 4, 2016–February 26, 2017
Sohei Nishino began his series of Diorama Maps as a university student at Osaka University of Arts. After researching his chosen city, Nishino spends up to two months walking and photographing the urban environment, capturing thousands of images of streets, alleys, corners and vistas from every imaginable angle. He then prints his contact sheets, cuts out the individual frames and affixes them by hand onto board. Through this process, Nishino creates a large-scale, collaged map that expresses a truly personal interpretation of the featured location. Once the collages are complete, Nishino digitally photographs and presents them as high resolution, large-scale prints, often as large as 6 x 7 feet. On view at SFMOMA November 4, 2016 through February 26, 2016 in the New Work gallery on the museum’s fourth floor, New Work: Sohei Nishino will feature recent works from Diorama Maps, including a new map of San Francisco made especially for the exhibition.
“We are thrilled to present Nishino’s first solo exhibition in the United States as part of our renowned New Work series,” said Corey Keller, curator of photography at SFMOMA. “He brings a truly unique perspective to every city he photographs, and the work he’s done in San Francisco is extraordinary. The work, building as it does on a history of photography and urban mapping, seems especially relevant in today’s GPS era.”
Since 1987, SFMOMA's New Work series has provided a platform for experimentation: a space for emerging artists to develop or premiere a body of work or present existing work in a new context. Through New Work, SFMOMA has organized early exhibitions with artists such as Matthew Barney, Marilyn Minter, Kara Walker and Christopher Wool, all of whom received their first solo museum shows through the series. The inaugural New Work exhibition in the new SFMOMA featured Portuguese artist Leonor Antunes.
Generous support for New Work: Sohei Nishino is provided by Alka and Ravin Agrawal, Adriane Iann and Christian Stolz, Wes and Kate Mitchell and Robin Wright and Ian Reeves.
SFMOMA’s Commitment to Photography
SFMOMA has been collecting and exhibiting photography since its founding in 1935 and was one of the first American art museums to do so. An independent department was established under the direction of Van Deren Coke in 1980. Under the leadership of emeritus curator Sandra S. Phillips, who joined SFMOMA in 1987, the collection has grown exponentially in size and quality, and the program, based on a philosophy of collecting and interpreting the photographic medium in all its richness and complexity, has earned an international reputation. Clément Chéroux will join the department as senior curator of photography in early 2017.
Today the photography collection numbers more than 17,000 objects, and is the largest collection at the museum. Its strengths include outstanding examples of work by West Coast modernist masters like Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and their counterparts on the East Coast, most notably Alfred Stieglitz and Charles Sheeler. A small but important group of European modernist works by Hans Bellmer, Claude Cahun, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Man Ray, among others, represents another highlight of this period. The collection also demonstrates a deep commitment to the work of major 20th- and 21st-century figures, including Robert Adams, Diane Arbus, Lewis Baltz, Rineke Dijkstra, William Eggleston and Larry Sultan.
SFMOMA is particularly renowned for its thematic exhibitions, presenting photography as a vital modern visual language. This strong interest in photography’s social and cultural importance and this pioneering commitment to examining the medium’s distinguishing—and changing—characteristics continues to grow in relevance, as newer generations and evolving technologies challenge the very definition of photography as never before.