Shomei Tomatsu: Skin of the Nation

Shomei Tomatsu: Skin of the Nation

Fotomuseum Winterthur

Shomei Tomatsu, Prostitute, Nagoya, 1958, printed later. Gelatin silver print, 35,2 x 25,9 cm.
Promised gift of Al Alcorn to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
© Shomei Tomatsu

September 27, 2006

Shomei Tomatsu
Skin of the Nation

2 September to 19 November 2006

Fotomuseum Winterthur
Grüzenstrasse 44 45
CH-8400 Winterthur (Zurich)
Phone: 41 52 234 10 60

Shomei Tomatsu Skin of the Nation

“Skin of the Nation” focuses on the surfaces, faces, clothes and territories that, like a map, provide information about Japan’s mood and sensitivities. Shomei Tomatsu, who was born in 1930 and grew up during the military regime in World War II, belongs to the “faithless” generation, as he himself has formulated it to the generation that experienced the shock of Japan’s change from a closed into an open society. His first photographs taken in the 1950s were dedicated to poverty-stricken life in post-war Japan, to wounded soldiers, potters, farmers struck by floods, school children and students from the poor social classes. At the end of the 1950s, he founded the “Vivo” photo agency with Kikuji Kawada, Eikoh Hosoe and others. During the 1960s he was regarded as the most important and influential post-war photographer. His friends in other media were the film-maker Nagisa Oshima, the theatre director Shuji Terayama, the Butoh dancer Tatsumi Hijikata and the writer Kobo Abe.

This major retrospective represents the first comprehensive overview of the work of Shomei Tomatsu and bears witness to his status within the Japanese post-war avant-garde and his role in the development of modern Japanese photography. With approximately 260 photographs, the exhibition shows all Tomatsu’s major groups of works, for example “Nagasaki 11.02″ the shattering essay on the effects of the atom bomb and the lives of the survivors and “Chewing Gum and Chocolate”, his first attempt at capturing the far-reaching Americanisation in Japan after the war with the huge dichotomy between the military threat and the cultural attraction, the seduction of Hollywood glamour. Shomei Tomatsu takes us from traditional Japan to the Japan of economic success and shows the effects of these economic, political and cultural changes. His approach, his documentary-based, lyrical and symbolic way of seeing things influenced generations of Japanese photographers. The father of modern Japanese photog-raphy, he influenced Nobuyoshi Araki and Daido Moriyama just as much as, later on, Seiichi Furuya, Takashi Homma and Yoshiko Seino all of them photographers whose work has been shown in the Fotomuseum Winterthur and who are now represented in the museum’s collection.

The exhibition is organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in assoziation with Japan Society, New York, and Fotomuseum Winterthur. The curators are Leo Rubinfien and Sandra S. Phillips.

With the generous support of the Vontobel Foundation, Zurich
Additional support in Winterthur by Sony Overseas SA and Alveo AG, Lucerne

Additional support for the whole project:
the National Endowment for the Arts, Allan Alcorn, Linda and Jon Gruber, the E. Rhodes
and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, Bob and Randi Fisher, the Blakemore Foundation,
Mr. and Mrs. William S. Fisher, Prentice and Paul Sack, Ellen Ramsey Sanger, The Japan Foundation, and Fuji Photo Film Co., Ltd.

Publication on the exhibition: Shomei Tomatsu Skin ot the Nation. Published by San Francisco Museum of Modern Art,
in collaboration with Yale University Press, New Haven and London. With texts by Leo Rubinfien, Sandra S. Phillips and John W. Dower, Preface by Daido Moriyama. 224 pages,
131 Duplex- and 28 colour illustrations, format 24 x 26,5 cm, hardcover with dust jacket.
Friday, 27 October, 6 p.m. till midnight: “Japanese Night, the evening symposium on Japanese photography and lifestyle from the past 50 years.
More information under:

Till 5 November 2006: Stories, Histories – Set 3 from the Collection of the Fotomuseum Winterthur

For further information please visit our website

Fotomuseum Winterthur
Grüzenstrasse 44 45
CH-8400 Winterthur (Zurich)

Phone: 41 52 234 10 60
Fax. 41 52 233 60 97

Opening hours: Tue Sun 11am 6pm / Wed 11am 8pm

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September 27, 2006

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