"WE PERCEIVE COUNTLESS IMAGES ALL DAY LONG AND DO NOT ALWAYS FOCUS ON THEM. SOMETIMES THEY ARE BLURRY, OR FLEETING, OR JUST GLIMPSED OUT OF THE CORNER OF THE EYE. THE CRUSHING FORCE OF TIME IS BEFORE MY EYES, AND I TRY TO KEEP PRESSING THE SHUTTER RELEASE OF THE CAMERA."
- Daidō Moriyama
Daidō Moriyama (b. 1938) is one of Japanese photography’s most active and iconic figures. Witness to the spectacular changes that transformed Japan in the second half of the 20th century, his photographs express a fascination with the cultural paradox of age-old traditions which persist within the country’s modern society. Providing a harsh, crude vision of city life and the chaos of everyday existence, his work occupies a unique space between the objective and the subjective, the illusory and the real.
Trained in graphic design before taking up photography, Moriyama moved to Tokyo in 1961 where he assisted photographer Eikoh Hosoe and became familiar with the trenchant socio-political critiques produced by artists like Shōmei Tōmatsu. He also drew inspiration from overseas, looking to William Klein’s confrontational photographs of New York, Andy Warhol’s silkscreened multiples of newspaper images, and the Beat writings of Jack Kerouac. In the course of a career which has spanned half a century, Moriyama has chronicled a dizzying carousel of subjects, from street theatre to romantic assignations, via medical specimens, empty highways, self-portraits, and urban landscapes.
Moriyama joined the Provoke photography collective for their second issue in 1969. His work for the eponymous publication exhibited many features which would become signature motifs, including his refusal to follow conventions about reproduction, documentation and visual legibility. Moriyama embraced the camera’s potential as a mechanical tool for unselfconscious recording. A leading exponent of what became known as the are-bure-boke (‘rough, blurred, out-of-focus’) approach, Moriyama’s photography lilberated subsequent generations of Japanese photographers from the existing norms of technical and aesthetic practise.
Moriyama’s work has been collected by numerous prominent public and private collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The J. Paul Getty Museum, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Centre Pompidou, Paris.
Moriyama has had major solo shows at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain, Paris, The Fotomuseum, Winterthur, The Folkwang, Essen, the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography and Tate Modern, London. His accolades include the Japan Photo Critics Association new artist’s award, the Photographic Society of Japan’s annual award, and the Hasselblad Award. He has been the subject of various recent documentaries. In October 2023, a major retrospective of Moriyama's work to date will be presented at The Photographer's Gallery, London.