Daido Moriyama, Japan’s most celebrated postwar street photographer, is best known for his grainy, high-contrast black-and-white shots of city scenes. For years, however, the artist longed to capture Hawaii. He finally visited the archipelago in 2004 in the first of what would be five trips taken over the course of three years, during which he snapped pictures to his heart’s content. Around 30 black-and-white prints from this series are making their debut U.S. appearance from February 13 to March 13 at Luhring Augustine gallery, in New York.
Prepare to be startled. Removing the color from the tropics is jarring: The air seems stripped of its warmth and balminess, and the beaches and skies look cool, crisp and ashen. Moriyama’s harsh light and unnerving perspectives reveal a more ominous side of what in different hands might look like carefree tourist culture. He is a master of dramatic angles, and the effect can be exhilarating, as in his vertiginous view down the wing of an airplane or glance up a palm tree. This unexpected take on paradise is satisfyingly rendered with the same grittiness the photographer lends his urban subjects.
"Island Noir" originally appeared in the February 2010 issue of
"Island Noir" originally appeared in the February 2010 issue ofArt+Auction. For a complete list of articles from this issue available on ARTINFO, see Art+Auction's February 2010 Table of Contents.