Peter Blum is pleased to announce an exhibition of the acclaimed Katsura Villa photographs by Yasuhiro
Ishimoto (1921-2012). Katsura is the first exhibition of the artist’s work at Peter Blum Gallery, on view at
20 West 57th Street, New York. The show runs from Thursday January 14 through February 20, 2016.
Yasuhiro Ishimoto was born in San Francisco in 1921 and raised in Japan from the age of three into his
teenage years. In 1939, at the age of eighteen, Ishimoto returned to California to study Agriculture but was
soon sent to an internment camp for Japanese Americans when America declared war on Japan. During his
two years of internment, Ishimoto was introduced to the craft of photography which soon became his life’s
work. Upon release, Ishimoto moved to Chicago and enrolled at the Institute of Design where he studied
under Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind. Soon after his graduation in 1953, Ishimoto was invited to Kyoto
to create his first series of photographs of Katsura Villa. This series was published in the book Katsura:
Tradition and Creation in Japanese Architecture in 1960. The artist returned to the site nearly thirty years
later in 1981-1982 to photograph the villa again—this time incorporating color photography. Our exhibition
presents photographs from both of Ishimoto’s visits to Katsura Villa.
Katsura Imperial Villa was built between 1620 and 1658 on the banks of the Katsura River in Kyoto as a
summer home for Prince Toshihito Hachijo. The buildings and grounds have been designated as a world
heritage site and are considered a masterpiece of Japanese architecture and gardening. Ishimoto’s
photographs reinforce the precision and poetic harmonies that were pivotal in the inception and construction
of the Villa. At the same time the photographs both extract from and project modernist aesthetics onto the
architecture. This duality—of reverent documentation and reflective deduction resonates within each
photograph and seems only plausible to achieve by an artist with deep connections to both East and West.
Yasuhiro Ishimoto’s photographs of Katsura Villa are both an enduring homage to Japanese tradition and an
illumination of the undeniable influence this tradition has had on the West.