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Eikoh Hosoe

(Yonezawa, Yamagata, 1933 - )

Asia, Japanese

A rebel in subject matter and process, Eikoh Hosoe is one of the most significant of a group of young post-World War II Japanese photographers who emphasized the medium’s expressive rather than documentary nature.

In the mid-1950s, Hosoe began staging fictional narratives, blazing a trail for the fabricated photography of the 1980s and 1990s. His most famous narrative, Kamaitachi, blends childhood memories of the war with the myth of its title character, a weasel demon that inhabits the rice fields. This collaboration with Tatsumi Hijikata, founder of the radical Butoh dance movement, is a cinematic dance-drama. Even the prints, bleached to erase detail and heighten contrast, are unconventional.

Around 1960, Hosoe began addressing the naked body and sexuality, themes that are central to later art in both East and West. Man and Woman depicts the eternal battle between the sexes. Its treatment of woman as an equal was as shocking as its male and female nudity. Hijikata’s dance troupe posed for that series and for Embrace, a series about sensual and sexual contact.

Hosoe’s best known series is Barakei (Killed by Roses), a wild yet poetic portrait of Japanese writer Yukio Mishima. A celebrated intellectual, Mishima wanted to be seen as a “man of the body.” These prints, too, are non-traditional, incorporating montage, multiple exposures, bleaching and other manipulation.

Lives Tokyo, Japan

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