Author(s): Shomei Tomatsu
"Shomei Tomatsu is the pivotal figure of recent Japanese photography." -John SzarkowskiCasting a cold eye on postwar Japan, the raw, grainy and impressionistic photography of Shomei Tomatsu practically defined Japanese photography in the second half of the 20th century, greatly influencing Daido Moriyama, Nobuyoshi Araki and Takuma Nakihara. His best-known images are his portraits of people and street scenes from the 1950s, when the country struggled to recover from World War II and US military presence was ubiquitous; his photographs of 1960s Japan; and throughout his career, his images of Okinawa, where he died in 2012. Tomatsu's most famous single photograph is probably Melted Bottle, Nagasaki, 1961, which depicts a beer bottle rendered grotesquely biomorphic by the nuclear blast that devastated Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. The American photographer and writer Leo Rubinfien described Tomatsu's Nagasaki images as "sad, haggard facts," noting that "beneath the surface there was a grief so great that any overt expression of sympathy would have been an insult."This book, which accompanies a major retrospective at MAPFRE in Barcelona, elucidates the rich visual universe of Tomatsu, including his best-known images and previously unpublished work. It is the first comprehensive survey to be published since his death.