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Originally trained as a graphic designer, Daidō Moriyama is one of Japan’s leading contemporary photographers. The central theme of Moriyama’s work is the Japanese philosophy of ‘wabi-sabi’, or finding beauty in the ordinary and imperfect. This concept of the acceptance of imperfection is exemplified with the present image. Soon after New Year’s Day in 1971, Moriyama snapped this shot in Misawa, the dark and cold northern end of Japan’s Honshū Island where a U.S. military base takes up much of its landmass. The image, which has since become an icon of postwar Japanese photography, was on the cover of the catalogue that accompanied the artist’s acclaimed solo exhibition, “Stray Dog,” at the Japan Society in New York in 1999.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
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Moriyama, D., Munroe, A., and Phillips, S., "Daido Moriyama: Stray Dog," San Francisco, 1999.
Fondation Cartier Pour l'Art Contemporain, "Daido Moriyama," Jouy-en-Josas, France, 2003, pp. 8-9
Tucker, Anne, "The History of Japanese Photography," New Haven, 2003, p. 249.
Daidō Moriyama (Japanese, b. 1938) is a photographer known for works that highlight the dissolution of traditional values in postwar Japan. His works epitomize wabi-sabi, the Japanese aesthetic of beauty in imperfection. Moriyama’s photographs are predominantly high-contrast, grainy and black and white. The artist has produced over 150 books of photographs and has had over 100 solo exhibitions. He was a central figure in MoMA’s groundbreaking “New Japanese Photography” exhibition of 1974. SFMoMA organized and exhibited a 1999 retrospective “Daidō Moriyama: Stray Dog,” which also traveled to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Japan Society in New York.