Skin of the NationBook - 2004
Japan’s brilliant and influential postwar photographer Shomei Tomatsu (b. 1930) has created some of the most dramatic images in the history of photography. Many of his photographs have become icons of the twentieth century. This important book is the first in-depth English-language study of Tomatsu’s work. Richly illustrated and handsomely designed, it features more than one hundred plates representing?in ten thematic sections?the full range of his career.
Tomatsu emerged in the 1950s with his sensitive pictures of postwar Japan. In the 1960s the artist turned his camera to the aftermath of the atomic bomb and the lingering presence of the U. S. military in his homeland. In subsequent decades his lens has captured the elation of Japan’s economic boom and the problems inspired by his culture’s increasing westernization. Throughout, Tomatsu’s pictures have consistently resonated not only with Japanese society but also with American culture. Included in this book are essays by distinguished scholars on all aspects of the artist’s life and career as well as a selection of brief excerpts from Tomatsu’s own writings, many of which have never appeared in English.
Skin of the Nation (the book’s subtitle) is both a literal and metaphorical reference to the surfaces that have appeared in countless pictures throughout Tomatsu’s career. For the artist, skin is more than just a surface, it is a kind of map in which one can read the story of Japan?its essence and its future.
Blackwell North Amer
Born in 1930 in Nagoya, Japan, Shomei Tomatsu came of age during the devastation of World War II. As a teenager he defied air-raid sirens to watch B-29 bombers roaring overhead; in 1950, as a university student, he began to take his first photographs. Drawing deliberately on the legacy of Surrealism and the Western documentary tradition, the self-taught photographer quickly emerged as one of his generation's most sensitive observers of postwar Japan.
This catalogue - the first comprehensive publication on Tomatsu to appear in English - includes essays addressing his fifty-year career, his artistic influences, and his historical context. A selection of excerpts from Tomatsu's own writings, many of which have never appeared in English, offers an intimate encounter with the issues and themes addressed in his photographs.