“For me, cities are huge bodies of people’s desires. And as I search for my own desires within them, I think the most important thing photography can do is relate both the photographer and the viewer’s memories. My friends or critics are often surprised and ask me how I’ve never been bored going out for over 50 years. But I am never bored”.
Daidō Moriyama has always loved chaos, the frenetic bustle of cities, and has immortalized it with a style that has become iconic and that has paved the way for the millions of photographers who have tried and who still try to imitate his approach.
New York-based skate brand Supreme recently posted on its Instagram account a tribute to Japanese photography pioneer Daidō Moriyama, anticipating what will be the next collaboration of the brand founded by James Jebbia.
I’m not going to miss the opportunity and I take advantage of the link given to us by Supreme to tell the life, philosophy and style of one of the most incisive and decisive photographers of all time and certainly one of the greatest exponents of Japanese street photography.
Moriyama was born in Ikeda in 1938 but grew up in Osaka, where he began studying graphic design before being viscerally captured by photography. He decided to move to Tokyo in 1961 and became the assistant of Eikoh Hosoe (cult photographer who made death, erotic obsession and irrationality the cornerstones of his aesthetics expressed through the body), a job that he carried out for three years and that allowed him to get in touch with the world of photography in Tokyo.
The Japanese capital immediately has a deflagrating impact on Moriyama, who begins to capture the emerging contrasts, that of a modern Tokyo corrupted by industrial mechanisms in rapid rise. In 1968 he published his first collection of photographs, Nippon gekijo shashincho, on the theme of intrusive industrialization and the following year he began his collaboration with the radical collective Provoke, drawing the attention of many artists throughout the country. Moriyama will then also contribute to the growth of many photographic magazines such as Camera Mainichi, Asahi Journal and many others.
His raw yet extremely expressive style surprisingly captures the soul of his contemporaries by developing what would become known as the are-bure-boke (raw, fuzzy, out of focus) approach, which still represents an extremely current and cool style today.
An extremely prolific photographer, he has published hundreds of photographic collections including Japanese Theater (1968), Farewell, Photography (1972), Daidohysteric (1993) e Hokkaido (2008).
What comes through disruptively in his grainy, high-contrast photography is the force, energy, and constant movement of collective urban life, but at the same time it proves extremely personal.
His production, now over 50 years long, represents a fundamental testimony of what has been the industrial but above all cultural transformation of Japan after World War II, shaped by the end of the U.S. military occupation and the repercussions that the latter had on Japanese traditions.
His work has shaped, influenced and inspired generations of photographers and others around the world and his legacy is stronger than ever.