Masahisa Fukase

“Each individual project made by Fukase has a totally different matrix and subject. He did not use the same printing styles nor photography techniques for each project. This is most unusual and it is one of the elements that makes him so very special”

- Michael Hoppen

Masahisa Fukase (1934-2012)  is renowned for his obsessive, intense and deeply introspective photography through which he articulated his passionate and occasionally violent life. Fukase’s body of work is remarkable for the extraordinary range of visual perspectives that it encompasses. A truly conceptual artist, Fukase altered the language of his work to suit the different narratives he created throughout his career. His photographs appear as instinctively assured in regional slaughterhouses or Shinjuku street orgies as in his own home.


The most widely recognised of his projects, The Solitude of Ravens (1986), was created over a period of ten years following the breakdown of his second marriage to Yohko Wanibe. Stark and monochrome, the ravens become a symbol of lost love and unendurable heartbreak, taking on such autobiographical resonance that Fukase is presented as the real subtext of his own work. Fukase’s abstracted grief for Yohko appears in particularly bleak relief when set against his insouciant, intimate pictures of his young bride and their early domestic happiness from the 1970s. In another example of Fukase’s sophisticated personal iconography, the artist’s cats, who made such frequent appearances in his account of marital life, reappear in his final series, Bukubuku (Bubbling, 2004). Completed shortly before Fukase’s debilitating fall in 1992, the series has been described as 'a whimsical if somewhat morbid game of solitaire that charts new territory for the photographic self-portrait.’


Masahisa Fukase was born in Hokkaido, Japan, in 1934, the son of a successful local studio photographer. He graduated from Nihon University College of Art's Photography Department in 1956, and became a freelance photographer in 1968 following brief stints at the Nippon Design Center and Kawade Shobo Shinsha Publishers. His work has been exhibited widely at institutions such as MoMA, New York, the Oxford Museum of Modern Art, the Foundation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain, and the Victoria & Albert Museum. His work is held in major collections including the Victoria & Albert Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and The Getty Museum. He is also the winner of prizes including the 2nd Ina Nobuo Award, as well as the Special Award at the 8th Higashikawa Photography Awards.


All the Masahisa Fukase works shown at our gallery and on our website are all authenticated vintage works that come directly from the Masahisa Fukase Archives. Each print was printed by Masahisa Fukase himself, and are all accompanied by a signed certificate of authenticity.