YASUHIRO ISHIMOTO, Tokyo, 1953–58. Gelatin silver print, 19 x 24.3 cm. © Kochi Prefecture, Kochi Ishimoto Yasuhiro Photo Center.

This exhibition focuses on Yasuhiro Ishimoto’s photographs of urban landscapes in Tokyo and Chicago, taken from the 1940s to the 1960s. Ishimoto (1921–2012) was born into a Japanese immigrant farming family in San Francisco. During World War II, he was interned in Camp Amache, a concentration camp for Japanese Americans in Colorado, where he was first exposed to photography. Three years after the war ended, Ishimoto attended the Institute of Design, a design school in Chicago that followed in the footsteps of the Bauhaus, and began his career as a photographer under the tutelage of Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, and others.

Ishimoto traveled to Japan in 1953 and produced a series of photographs of Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto, one of his signature projects. In 1958, he published his first photo book, Someday Somewhere, which captured the people and scenes of Chicago and Tokyo—and breathed new life into the postwar Japanese art world. Ishimoto based himself in Tokyo after that, leaving behind a body of work that presents a unique perspective on subjects such as Japanese traditional beauty (as exemplified by the Ryokai Mandalas and Ise Grand Shrine), urban landscapes, portraits, the sky, and water. Ishimoto also went beyond photography to become deeply involved in postwar international trends in design, architecture, and other fields, ultimately leading to his recognition as a Person of Cultural Merit by the Japanese government. In 2020 and 2021, a major retrospective of his career was held across three venues: the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, and the Museum of Art, Kochi.



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Tokyo Gallery was founded in 1950 as the first contemporary art gallery in Tokyo. In 2002 the gallery opened a new space, Beijing Tokyo Art Projects, in Beijing’s 798 Art District, and it now operates as Tokyo Gallery + BTAP. Over the course of its history the gallery has introduced Western avant-garde artists such as Lucio Fontana, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Yves Klein, and Jackson Pollock to Japan. It has also supported experimental projects by some of Japan’s most important artists, including Taro Okamoto, Kazuo Shiraga, and Jiro Takamatsu as well as key figures associated with Mono-ha like Lee Ufan and Kishio Suga. In the 1970s the gallery began working with Korean artists, such as Kim Whanki and Park Seo-Bo, and in the late 1980s it started exhibiting then-unknown Chinese artists, including Cai Guo-Qiang and Xu Bing. Carrying this spirit forward, Tokyo Gallery + BTAP continues the mission of discovering and promoting both established and rising artists while regularly participating in international art fairs and working closely with museums and biennale exhibitions.