Skip to Main Content

Shomei Tomatsu

Japanese, 1930–2012

2,660 followers
Follow

Shomei Tomatsu

Japanese, 1930–2012

2,660
Followers
Biography

With a career spanning over 50 years, Shomei Tomatsu is widely considered among the most influential figures in Japanese postwar photography. In an attempt to move beyond the standard idioms of war-era reportage, Tomatsu developed an expressionistic documentary approach that combined literal description with heavily stylized printing techniques, dramatic manipulations of scale, and symbolism. He examined the effects of the atom bombs, American occupation, and rapid industrialization on traditional modes of life in Japan, and was particularly drawn to the corrosive effect of American advertising and popular culture on the smaller more isolated Japanese islands such as Okinawa. In an ongoing series that spanned almost two decades of photography, “Chewing Gum and Chocolate” (1959-1976), Tomatsu toured U.S. military bases across Japan, ambivalently documenting the confrontation between Americans and locals.

Related Categories
Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
User
Solo show at a major institution
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
Group
Group show at a major institution
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 6 more
Institution
Collected by a major institution
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 1 more
Publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
frieze, and 2 more
Biography

With a career spanning over 50 years, Shomei Tomatsu is widely considered among the most influential figures in Japanese postwar photography. In an attempt to move beyond the standard idioms of war-era reportage, Tomatsu developed an expressionistic documentary approach that combined literal description with heavily stylized printing techniques, dramatic manipulations of scale, and symbolism. He examined the effects of the atom bombs, American occupation, and rapid industrialization on traditional modes of life in Japan, and was particularly drawn to the corrosive effect of American advertising and popular culture on the smaller more isolated Japanese islands such as Okinawa. In an ongoing series that spanned almost two decades of photography, “Chewing Gum and Chocolate” (1959-1976), Tomatsu toured U.S. military bases across Japan, ambivalently documenting the confrontation between Americans and locals.

Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
User
Solo show at a major institution
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
Group
Group show at a major institution
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 6 more
Institution
Collected by a major institution
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 1 more
Publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
frieze, and 2 more
Articles Featuring Shomei Tomatsu
From Nobuyoshi Araki to Jo Ann Callis, These Photographers Captured the Desire and Dynamics of Fetish
Oct 22nd, 2019
From Nobuyoshi Araki to Jo Ann Callis, These Photographers Captured the Desire and Dynamics of Fetish
10 Iconic Photographers Who Immortalized the City Streets
Oct 5th, 2018
10 Iconic Photographers Who Immortalized the City Streets
The Destruction of War and Cultural Takeover in Japan, in Captivating Black and White Shots
Dec 2nd, 2014
The Destruction of War and Cultural Takeover in Japan, in Captivating Black and White Shots
Navigate right