Shomei Tomatsu (1930 – 2012)

It was announced earlier today that acclaimed postwar Japanese photographer Shomei Tomatsu died in Okinawa on December 14, 2012. Tomatsu was a founding member of the influential Vivo photography collective in 1959 and mentor to successive generations of younger Japanese photographers. Best known for his post atomic bomb images of Nagasaki, Tomatsu’s work seeks to reframe photojournalism beyond the constraints of an earlier social realism imposed by photographers like Ken Domon. By placing an emphasis on the expressive quality unique to the photographic image, Tomatsu’s photographs of a Japan in a rapid postwar transition deliver a layered commentary as they explore image as symbol. A complete English language obituary can be found on the British Journal of Photography’s website.

Shomei Tomatsu

The International Center of Photography Library has numerous Shomei Tomatsu photobooks.
Listed below are several from the library collection:

The Pencil of the Sun: Okinawa & S.E. Asia (1975)
TR790 .T65 1975

Hikaru Kaze/ Sparkling Winds: Okinawa (1979)
TR790.J3 .T65 1979

What Now: Japan Through the Eyes of Shomei Tomatsu (1981)
TR820 .T65 1981

Shomei Tomatsu, Japan 1952-1981 (1984)
TR647 .T65 1984

Sakura Sakura, Sakura 120 (1990)
TR726.T7 .T651 1990

Nagasaki 11:02 (1995 reprint)
TR820.5.J3 .T65 1995

Shomei Tomatsu: Visions of Japan (1998)
TR654 .T59 1998

Shomei Tomatsu (2001)
TR140.T65 .J44 2001

Shomei Tomatsu: Skin of a Nation (2004)
Catalogue for his San Francisco MoMA exhibition
TR646 .T46 2004

Tokyo Mandala: The World of Shomei Tomatsu (2007)
TR647 .T65 2007

Group show catalogues with works by Tomatsu:

Szarkowski, John and Shoji Yamagishi.
New Japanese Photography
New York: Moma, 1974

Cornell Capa and Shoji Yamagishi.
Japan: A Self Portrait.
New York: International Center of Photography, 1979.
TR646.U6 .J36 1979

Mark Holborn.
Black Sun: The Eyes of Four: Roots and Innovation in Japanese Photography.
New York: Aperture. 1986.
TR646.G72 O934 1986

4 thoughts on “Shomei Tomatsu (1930 – 2012)”

  1. He is already missed. His retrospective at Japan Society was a high water mark to me, as was Christopher Phillips lecturing about him in his ICP-Bard MFA class. Thanks, Russet.

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