|SHOMEI TOMATSU: Biography
b. January 16, 1930, Nagoya, Japan
d. December 14, 2012, Naha, Japan
The legendary Japanese photographer, Shomei Tomatsu, was born in Nagoya, Japan in 1930, and became a published photographer while a student of economics at Aichi University. He first worked for Iwanami Shoten Publishers and then embarked on his free-lance career in 1956. In 1959 he co-founded the avant-garde photographic agency, Vivo, with Eikoh Hosoe and Ikko Narahara. He founded his own publishing company, Shaken, in 1967. he was a founder of the avant-garde magazine, Provoke. Always concerned with the politics and social problems of the world around him during war and peace he documented and expressed his concerns through his vast oeuvre.
He had a university teaching career and received numerous awards including, in 1995, the Japanese government's Purple Ribbon, for artistic achievement. He had an equally lengthy and distinguished exhibition history at home and abroad. His works are in the permanent collections of numerous major museums world-wide, including the Harvard University Art Museums, Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Winterthur, The Centre Pompidou, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, and the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. His retrospective, the traveling exhibition, Shomei Tomatsu: Skin of the Nation, 2004 to 2006, curated by Sandra Phillips and Leo Rubinfien for San Franciscoís Museum of Modern Art, with its comprehensive catalogue, is one of numerous solo museum exhibitions of Tomatsuís work. His prolific output of photography books includes Pottery Town: Seto, 1955, Nippon, 1967, Saramu Areikomu, 1968, O Shinjuku, 1969, I am a King, 1972, The Pencil of the Sun, 1975, Ruinous Garden, 1987, and Traces: 50 Years of Tomatsuís Works, 1999.
Tomatsu created and innovated from adolescence onwards. His photographic vision was boundless and his aesthetic influence continues today, both in Japan and abroad. Shomei Tomatsu: Hues and Textures of Nagasaki is the catalogue for his solo exhibition of the same name, at the Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum, in fall of 2009. He spent his later years primarily in Okinawa. Shomei Tomatsu died on December 14, 2012, leaving a deep void for mankind.
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