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  Cherry Blossoms
  Tokyo    KARIUDO (Hunter)    NIPPON GEKIJO SHASHINCHO (Japan Theater Photo Album)    Yumenoshima
New Acquisitions

Cherry Blossoms

Moriyama Daido (born 1938, Ikeda City) began photographing Japan in the 1960s, capturing the intense social and creative ferment throughout the country in the decades following World War II. After moving to Tokyo in 1961, Moriyama immediately became part of the center of Japanese photographic activity, actively publishing his work and joining the short-lived yet influential Provoke group (1968–70). Roaming the cities and highways of Japan, he captured gritty images in his signature high-contrast, grainy, and blurry style. Moriyama’s technique of shooting in movement and from dynamic perspectives resulted in powerful portraits of a modernizing country.

His tendency to photograph from a lower perspective, as if the camera were a part of his body, is evident in the oblique view of an endless expanse of detritus in Yumenoshima, a former landfill in Tokyo Bay. Office workers become featureless components in the artificial glare of fluorescent lights and synthetic surfaces in NIPPON GEKIJO SHASHINCHO (Japan Theater Photo Album). In KARIUDO (Hunter), sharp gashes of light partially obscure the facial features of two officers sitting casually in a coffee shop while a waitress stares blankly across the counter. Similarly, the limp profile of a woman and the jagged cityscape that rakes through the skies of Tokyo convey the feeling of anonymity, disorientation, and the pressures of a growing metropolis.

Radical experimentation with photography led Moriyama to a personal and creative crisis by the end of the 1970s. Cherry Blossoms exemplifies his return to the fundamental aspects of the medium. Through light and composition, he heightens the overwhelming materiality and ephemerality of an iconic element of the traditional Japanese landscape.

Cherry Blossoms
Moriyama Daido (b. 1938, Ikeda City, Japan)
Silver gelatin print
Purchase—Friends of the Freer and Sackler Galleries   S2012.10

As renovation work continues in the Freer Gallery, the Sackler Gallery also will close on July 10, 2017. This museum-wide closure will allow us to completely reinstall our exhibitions and revitalize features to improve your visit. Both spaces will reopen on October 14, 2017, when we will welcome the public back to the Freer|Sackler: two galleries, one destination. For your safety, all visitors will have their bags checked. See the complete list of restricted items and bag sizes.