07 September 2010

The History of Japanese Photography

30. The History of Japanese Photography by Anne Wilkes Tucker, Dana Friis-Hansen, Kaneko Ryuichi, Takeba Joe; with essays by Iizawa Kotaro, Kinoshita Naoyuki (4/5)

When it comes to art books, I'm leery of the essays because the suppositions proposed are often unverified. I'm interested in what the artist or photographer has to say, not so much the musings and intellectual dissections of critics and scholars. That said, the essays in The History of Japanese Photography are definitely worth reading as they focus more on historical context.

The book is arranged chronologically from the first appearance of photographs in Japan in the mid 1800's through 2000. There is a fairly in depth chronology at the back of the book. Also at the back: short biographies of most of the photographers mentioned/featured, descriptions of the major camera clubs and photo magazines. I would've liked to have seen more of this information interwoven with the rest of the book. As it is, it's 80 or so pages at the back all printed with footnote-sized type. (Yes, I'm feeling my age. Darn kids, get off my lawn!)

There are, of course, loads of photos in the book. It's cool to see the evolution of styles and what different people do with their photography. My favorite photos are from the most recent section of works. With luck, I'll be able to find some of the photographers' books I wrote down. (It's cited quite well.) I'm a new fan of Hatakeyama Naoya and Sugimoto Hiroshi.

Not a book for everyone, but if you're interested in photography, history, or Japan, I recommend it.

A year ago on TTaT: twelve by eighteen

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