Tomatsu, Shomei 1930-

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TOMATSU, Shomei 1930-

PERSONAL: Born January 15, 1930, in Nagoya-shi, Japan; married Matsuko Inoue, 1960 (divorced, 1975); married Yasuko Nakano, 1986; children: (first marriage) Izumi. Nationality: Japanese. Education: Attended Aichi University, 1954.

ADDRESSES: Home—6149 Ichimiya-cho, Chosei-gun, Chiba, Japan.

CAREER: Photographer, 1951—. Tokyo University of Art and Design, Tokyo, Japan, professor, 1966—. Cofounder, Vivo, 1959. Exhibitions: Work included in permanent collections of Museum of Modern Art. Solo exhibitions include The Japanese, Fuji Photo Salon, Tokyo, Japan, 1959; Kingdom of Mud, Fuji Photo Salon, 1964; Japan, 1952-81, Fotogalerie im Forum Stadpark, Graz, Austria, 1984; Time Becomes Weathered, Maikata Civic Gallery, Osaka, Japan, 1991; and New World Map + Golden Mushroom, Inax Gallery, Tokyo, 1993. Group exhibitions include Modern Photography, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, 1950; Modern Photography of Japan, Seibu Art Museum, Tokyo, 1975; Vivo, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1978; Glances at the City, Tokyo, Tokyo Municipal Museum of Photography, 1990; and Avantgarde Art in Postwar Japan, Yokohama Museum of Art, 1994.

MEMBER: Japan Professional Photographers Society (director, 1959—).

AWARDS, HONORS: Award for most promising photographer, Japan Photo Critics Association, 1958; award for photographer of the year, Japan Photo Critics Association, 1961; Photographic Society of Japan award, 1975; art award, Camera Mainichi, 1976; art encouragement award, Japanese Ministry of Education, 1976.


11:02 Nagasaki, text by Motoi Tamaki, [Tokyo, Japan], 1966.

(With Taroh Yamamoto and Takahiko Okada) Nihon, [Tokyo, Japan], 1967.

Salaam Aleikoum, [Tokyo, Japan], 1968.

Okinawa, Okinawa, Okinawa, [Tokyo, Japan], 1969.

Oh! Shinjuku, [Tokyo, Japan], 1969.

(With others) The Asahi Camera Class of Photography, [Tokyo, Japan], 1970.

(Editor, with others) A History of Japanese Photography, [Tokyo, Japan], 1971.

Après-guerre (title means "After War"), text by Akiyuki Nosaka, [Tokyo, Japan], 1971.

(With others) Modern Art: The Expanding World of Design, [Tokyo, Japan], 1972.

I Am a King, [Tokyo, Japan], 1972.

The Pencil of the Sun: Okinawa and Southeast Asia, [Tokyo, Japan], 1975.

Akemodoro no hana, [Tokyo, Japan], 1976.

Kingdom of Mud, text by Koh-ichi Tanigawa, [Tokyo, Japan], 1978.

A Brilliant Wind, text by Kineo Kuwabara and others, [Tokyo, Japan], 1979.

Collection of Works, [Tokyo, Japan], 1989.

Sakura, Photo Family (Konika, Japan), 1994.

Contributor to periodicals, including Asahi Camera, Camera Mainichi, Chunichi, Cimaise, Nihon Camera, Riyubou, and Yomiuri.

SIDELIGHTS: Shomei Tomatsu is a well-regarded Japanese photographer who is best known for his subjective photojournalism, which probes the more problematic aspects of Japan's economic revival after World War II. "His work developed with the post-war economic recovery and exposed the conflicts obscured by the rapidly expanding economy and the Occupation," noted a Contemporary Photographers contributor. "His subjective documentary is an assertion of a national identity; it exposes the conflict of a country caught between a native and an alien culture."

Tomatsu began working as a photographer in 1951, when he was twenty-one years old. Eight years later, he joined other photographers to form Vivo, which marked the advent of a new approach to photography. In 1966 he published 11:02 Nagasaki, a disturbing collection of images relating the horrific effects of nuclear war. "He confronted the victims directly and formally," affirmed the Contemporary Photographers contributor, "exposing suppurating sores, mutilated flesh and the contours of ravaged human features." The following year Tomatsu issued Nihon, a collection of photographs depicting the more unsettling aspects of life in Tokyo. "It was a volatile landscape," declared the Contemporary Photographers writer, "not the Japan of harmonious order."

In the ensuing decades Tomatsu has continued to pioneer a uniquely subjective approach to photojournalism. His later publications include a retrospective, Collection of Works, which appeared in 1989.



Contemporary Photographers, 3rd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.


Nihon Camera, June, 1989, Toshiharu Ito, "Clouds of Dreams and Mud."*