A selection of images by this artist can be viewed here
Tomatsu took up photography in 1950. After graduating in economics from Aichi University in 1954 he became a staff photographer for the Iwanami Shashin Bunko magazine. In 1956 he left Iwanami to become a freelance photographer, and two years later began his Chewing Gum and Chocolate series. This series offers a critical view of the occupation and Americanization of Japan in the postwar period. In 1959 he collaborated with Eikoh Hosoe, Kikuji Kawada, Ikko Narahara, Akira Sato, and Akira Tanno to found the Vivo agency. In September of that year, his hometown of Nagoya was struck by a huge typhoon, and his mother’s home was destroyed. Tomatsu then travelled to Nagoya to take pictures of the aftermath of the storm.
Tomatsu’s radical approach had a profound impact on traditional Japanese photography. By integrating fragmented and symbolic imagery in his work, he broke with the realist documentary tradition. The atomic bombings played an important part in Tomatsu’s postwar work and in 1960 he was asked by the Japanese Council Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs to produce the photography for a book on Nagasaki for their campaign. This project resulted in a joint effort with Ken Domon and others entitled Hiroshima-Nagasaki Document 1961. In 2004 a major retrospective of his work, Shomei Tomatsu: Skin of the Nation, began at the Japan Society in New York. Tomatsu died in Naha, Okinawa at the age of 82.
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