(Ikeda, Osaka, Japan, 1938 - )
A central figure in Japanese photography in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Moriyama is known for his grainy black and white images depicting the transformation of life in post-World War II Japan. Initially trained as a graphic designer, he began studying photography at age twenty-one and moved to Tokyo in 1961, where he got a job assisting renowned photographer Eikoh Hosoe.
Reflecting the feverish, jarring period of change in post-war Japanese culture, Moriyama adopted a snapshot aesthetic, shooting from odd angles and on the fly, even from moving vehicles. Although taken with a still camera, his images seem like frames from a motion picture. Moriyama’s early photographs focused on the seamy, neglected aspects of urban life. Later, he gloried in contrasting the luridness, frenzied pace, claustrophobia and pressures of urban life with close-ups of sensual delights—a sunflower swaying in a sunny breeze or a perfect apple waiting for the first bite—and with metaphorical images, such as the delicate fraying edges of a decaying, blood red rose. Moriyama is a master of evocation rather than depiction, the glimpse rather than the gaze.
Moriyama’s work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and The Centre Pompidou, Paris, among others. He has had solo exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; The Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain, Paris; The Fotomuseum, Winterthur, Switzerland; The Folkwang, Essen, Germany; and the Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo. Moriyama was awarded the Akron Art Museum’s Knight Purchase Prize for Photographic Media in 2008.