See the Hauntingly Noirish Photos of Japanese Beat Photographer Daido Moriyama From His LACMA Survey

Daido Moriyama's "Street, Tokyo, Japan," 1981, gelatin silver print
(© Daido Moriyama)

WHAT: Daido Moriyama’s “Fracture”

WHEN: April 7 – July 31, 2012


WHERE: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Boulevard

WHY THIS SHOW MATTERS: If there ever was a photographic voice who spoke for the city of Tokyo’s streets, Daido Moriyama is it. His now-classic, awkward, wide-angled, grainy prints have become synonymous with street photography, and remain jarring depictions of a westernized urban Japan, even 40 years after they were taken. His career, from early snapshots to more subdued color prints produced recently, frames the visible collision of old traditions and expanding modern consumerism, and is on view in “Fracture” at LACMA until July 31.

While the subjects of Moriyama’s prints are dark, obscured, and often faceless, there is a palpable affection present in each composition, made evident through his close proximity to subjects. Moriyama employed the trick of Jacob Riis-style flashes to throw light into the darkest corners of Tokyo, capturing ghost-like moments like a barely clothed woman running barefoot over piles of dirt and trash, wedged between corrugated tin walls.

The protégé of Eikoh Hosoe and contemporary of Shomei Tomatsu — another legend of Japanese photography — Moriyama drew inspiration from long walks at night through the city, as well as from the work of William Klein, Andy Warhol, Jack Kerouac, and Yukio Mishima. His photographs are both personal exploration and sociological study, and are true treasures of modern photography.  

To see photographs from the exhibition click the slide show