Daido Moriyama: A Retrospective Comes to The Photographers Gallery This Autumn

Daido Moriyama: A Retrospective Comes to The Photographers Gallery This Autumn

Coming to The Photographers’ Gallery in October: the first UK retrospective of one of the world’s most innovative and influential artists and street photographers. If you are interested in documentary or street photography, Daido Moriyama's work is definitely something you should familiarize yourself with.

This autumn, The Photographers’ Gallery presents the first UK retrospective of work by the acclaimed Japanese photographer, Daido Moriyama (b. 1938).  Featuring over 200 works, spanning from 1964 until the present day, Daido Moriyama: A Retrospective traverses different moments of Moriyama’s vast and productive career.

Tokyo, c. 1971.
© Daido Moriyama/Daido Moriyama Photo Foundation.

Taking over the whole Gallery, this exhibition celebrates one of the most innovative and influential artists and street photographers of our day. Championing photography as a democratic language, Moriyama inserted himself up close with Japanese society, capturing the clash of Japanese tradition with an accelerated Westernization in post-war Japan. With his non-conformist approach and desire to challenge the medium, his work is tirelessly unpretentious, raw, blurred, radical, and grainy and has defined the style of an entire generation.

Included in the exhibition is one of Moriyama’s most iconic images, Stray Dog (1971). This black-and-white image features a close-up of a stray dog's face, its snarling teeth prominent. It's a quintessential representation of Moriyama's fascination with the gritty and often unsettling aspects of street life.

Stray Dog, Misawa, 1971. From A Hunter.
© Daido Moriyama/Daido Moriyama Photo Foundation.

“Forget everything you’ve learned on the subject of photography for the moment, and just shoot. Take photographs of anything and everything, whatever catches your eye. Don’t pause to think." – Daido Moriyama

Moriyama has spent his 60-year career asking a fundamental question: What is photography? He rejected the dogmatism of art and the veneration of vintage prints, making the accessible and reproducible aspects of photography its most radical asset. Over and over, he reused his photographs in different contexts, experimenting with enlargements, crops and printing. Most of his work was made for printed pages rather than gallery walls. Fittingly, Daido Moriyama: A Retrospective will be the first UK exhibition to showcase many of his rare photobooks and magazines.

These publications, dating from early rare editions and out-of-print Japanese magazines to more recent titles, will be on show alongside large-scale works and installations. The magazines and photobooks will give visitors unrivaled access to abundant archival and visual material to view, read and discover.

Kanagawa, 1967. From A Hunter.
© Daido Moriyama/Daido Moriyama Photo Foundation.

Presented in two phases of Moriyama’s work, Daido Moriyama: A Retrospective starts with Moriyama’s early work for Japanese magazines, his challenging of photojournalism, his experiments in Provoke magazine, and the conceptual radicalization of his photobook Farewell Photography (1972). During this period, he established his unique aesthetic, famously known as "buke, boke" (meaning "grainy, blurry, out of focus").

The second part of the exhibition starts in the 1980s, when Moriyama overcame a creative and personal crisis. In the following decades, he explored the essence of photography and of his own self, developing a visual lyricism with which he reflected on reality, memory and history.

Tokyo, 1982.
© Daido Moriyama/Daido Moriyama Photo Foundation.

Moriyama renewed street photography inside and outside Japan. His wanderings led him to cover miles in Tokyo, Osaka, and Hokkaido, but also New York, Paris, São Paulo, and Cologne. His work and travels are showcased in Record magazine, which the photographer continues to publish today.

Daido Moriyama: A Retrospective is curated by Thyago Nogueira, Instituto Moreira Salles, São Paulo, Brazil.

Lead article images from left to right: From Letter to St-Loup, 1990/ Tokyo, 1967. Asahi Graph, Apr 1967/ Male actor playing a woman, Tokyo, 1966. From Japan, a Photo Theater. © Daido Moriyama/Daido Moriyama Photo Foundation. 

Images used with permission of Daido Moriyama Photo Foundation.

Kim Simpson's picture

Kim Simpson is a photographer based in the West of Scotland. Her photographic practice is an exploration of the human experience, with a particular emphasis on themes of identity and belonging.

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