Daido Moriyama began his photographic career in 1963 in Tokyo, and in the following decades played a crucial role in the practice of postwar Japanese photography. As a young artist, he became fascinated with the vibrant popular culture he discovered at a nearby American naval base and with the influx of Western goods and attitudes into Japan as the country reestablished itself after the war. His images, grainy and with deliberate technical imperfections, display a deep-rooted ambiguity toward the acceptance of American ideals. At once personal and universal, earthly and frankly romantic, seductive and often disquieting, they epitomize the cultural dilemma that Japan faced after the war: how the rapid changeover from an isolationist, fascist society to an international, capitalist one affected the country’s entire social fabric.
This catalogue, published in conjunction with the first exhibition to survey the work of this important Japanese artist, highlights Moriyama’s sensitive, poetic reaction to the vast changes he witnessed. It provides some of the first original scholarship about the photographer to be published in English and illustrates one hundred of his works, including vintage prints from the 1970s and later Polaroids and collages. Essays by the exhibition curator, Sandra S. Phillips, and Alexandra Munroe, director of the Japan Society Gallery in New York, along with a chronology, bibliography, and selected writings by the artist illuminate his extensive and influential body of work.