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Black Sun: The Eyes of Four, Roots and Innovation in Japanese Photography Hardcover – 1986

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

High-quality illustrations provide a showcase for the divergent styles of four contemporary photographers, to accompany a traveling exhibition of their work. Eikoe Hosoe's images cine matically present a dancer acting out a demon myth in villages and rice fields. Shomei Tomatsu documents the effects of the 1945 Nagasaki atomic bomb ex plosion in shocking artistic composi tions. In Masahisa Fukase's pictures, crows inhabit the images of the volca nic Imami Islands. Daido Moriyama presents shadowy close-up and still-life abstractions from an urban environ ment. Each photographer's work is ac companied by an essay about the artist. Holborn's essays provide a very brief history of Japanese photography in the context of 20th century photographic aesthetics, tracing the roots of a style that evinces Japan's "terrible yet fertile experience." Recommended. Kath leen Collins, Library of Congress
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Eikoh Hosoe was born in 1933 and established his reputation as a leading Japanese photographer following the publication of his first book Man and Woman in 1961. He received international attention with the publication of his portraits of the writer Yukio Mishima in Barakei: Killed by Roses in 1963. His other books include Kamaitachi (1968), Embrace (1971), and a recent study of the Spanish architect Gaudi (1984). He is professor of the Tokyo Institute of Polytechnics. A new edition of Barakei was published by Aperture in 1985.

Shomei Tomatsu was born in 1930 and has established a reputation internationally with a form of photography which is both intensely personal and documentary. His first book 11:02 Nagasaki (1966) revealed his extraordinary vision. His work forms a remarkable document of postwar Japan and has influenced many Japanese photographers. His recent books The Pencil of the Sun (1979) and Sparkling Winds (1979) reveal his interest in the island communities of Okinawa. His work has been included in many international exhibitions and a major retrospective of his work was held in Graz, Austria, in 1984.

Masahisa Fukase was born in 1934 and published his first book Homo Ludence in 1971. His work was included in the exhibition New Japanese Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1974. Much of a long narrative series of "Crow" was included in his book Yokho (1978). Many of the photographs were exhibited in Neue Fotografie Aus Japan in 1976 and Japan: A Self Portrait at the International Center of Photography, New York, in 1979.

Daido Moriyama was born in 1938 and has worked as a graphic designer and as an assistant to Eikoh Hosoe. His work has been included in all of the international exhibitions of Japanese photography and his original style has greatly affected the course of modern photography in Japan. He has published many books in Japan and his first book of essays, Inunokioku (Dog Memories) was published in Tokyo in 1984.

Mark Holborn was born in London in 1949. He is Editor of Aperture and is presently living in New York. His book on Japanese landscape, The Ocean in the Sand, was published in 1978. He has written texts for Beyond A Portrait: Dorothy Norman and Alfred Stieglitz (Aperture, 1984) and Barakei, Eikoh Hosoe's photographs of Yukio Mishima (Aperture, 1985). He is preparing a text for a book on Butoh, a form of contemporary Japanese dance, to be published by Aperture in 1986.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Aperture; Fist edition edition (1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0893811858
  • ISBN-13: 978-0893811853
  • Product Dimensions: 11.7 x 9.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,515,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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The book's full title is BLACK SUN:The Eyes of Four. The four are some of the most eminent photographers originating from Japan: Hosoe, Tomatsu, Fukase, Moriyama. Their pictures are not about pretense. They are not about "fitting" into an accepted genre of photography. That's part of what makes these images shout.
More importantly, each is a confirmation of the artists' intuition of the moment in which they are taken, a trust in themselves as artists in capturing a picture totally unique and totally in keeping with their unique vision.
What one sees when looking at these pictures goes well beyond formal components. Each picture is an insight into a culture and into the history of a country's experience in the 20th century.
These photos evoke emotions typically not easily reached in most contemporary art.

My only criticism is of the layout and production of the book. I would have enjoyed seeing more separation and space surrounding the pictures, better quality paper. The book is a bit crowded, which may make it difficult for some to see the beauty and integrity of these pictures.
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