We are open today.(10:00-18:00)
FUKUDA Katsuji, Window of My Heart, 1949
KON Michiko,From "EAT",Tuna, Little Horse Mackerel and Pomegranate,1990

Human images of 20th century

All photographs are portraits

Oct. 9Dec. 5, 2010

  • Oct. 9Dec. 5, 2010
  • Closed Monday(if Monday is a national holiday or a substitute holiday, it is the next day)
  • Admission:Adults ¥500/College Students ¥400/High School and Junior High School Students, Over 65 ¥250

During the early twentieth century, Pictorialism, which looked to paintings for its ideal, was the main form of artistic expression in photography.The 1930s saw the advent of the Shinko Shashin(New Photography Movement) in Japan, with artists pursuing the possibilities contained in images produced solely through the mechanical eye of the camera.In Modernism portrait photographers used their artistic and creative skills to capture their subjects’ true beings directly in an effort to express their internal beauty and emotions, while creating an impression and atmosphere that cannot be captured in words.

Part1 Images of the Age
A good portrait photograph is one that brings out the attraction of the subject and has the power to clearly articulate the emotions, aesthetics and ideals common to the society or period in which it is produced.In the same way that the portraits that appeared on the covers of the American ‘Life’ magazine, which at its height had a circulation of eight and a half million, became the ‘faces of their times’ during the twentieth century, which can be described as the ‘photographic century’, single photographs came to symbolize particular periods in the media and remained in the memories of the people.Artists, politicians, entertainers, actresses, fashion models, etc., these men and women who embodied the periods in which they lived stimulated the photographers’ creativity; their strongly individualistic looks giving birth to a wide variety of portraits.

Part2 The Human Figures in the Documentary
Documentary photographs produced using the snapshot technique capture people within the real world in an instant and have an appeal that cannot be found in a carefully arranged studio portrait.The photographs presented here have been taken head-on, evincing a strong reality and producing monumental images that surpass time.The great documentary photographs of the twentieth century often show people struggling to overcome the horrors of war or the hardships imposed by an extreme working environment.These works, each of which is a historical document, allow us to experience directly the sufferings and jubilation of the subjects, to witness the sublimity of humanity, and the preciousness of human life.
Photographs of human subjects, like those by August Sander, reveal the truth and beauty of the human form through images of the daily lives of the ordinary people.These varied works combined to create a new genre in photography that has been carried on to this day in the form of the documentary photograph.

Part3 Images of the Family
Family portrait photographs embody the simple desire to record memories of one’s loved ones.This desire can be said to represent the true essence of portrait photography.The simple attraction and intimacy of photographs featuring the family elicit a strong response in the viewers.The portrait of a loving mother and child that was taken at a photographer’s studio during the early Showa period shows that regardless of the times, the feelings photographs evoke in people remain unchanged.
When taking a picture of their child, wife, family or somebody close to them, the photographer’s honest emotions, his relationship to the subject and his private life will be revealed in the work.It was during the 1970s, when the ideal of familial love was lost, leading to the breakdown of the traditional domestic structure and the appearance of the nuclear family, that photographers first began to focus on the things around them, using family portraits to produce a miniaturized view of society.By turning their eyes to the family, it can be said that they reaffirmed the origin of human relations, and returned to photography’s true essence.

Part4 The Imaginary Body
When considering the relationship between photography and art in the twentieth century, we are faced with numerous works which, although featuring the human body, do not conform to the accepted portrait format. In the same way that the Surrealists removed objects from their customary settings to create new forms of beauty, artists turned to fragmentary and abstracted representations of the human body; a partiality for objects such as mannequins; objects used freely to create human-like images; shadows that hint at the presence of a human figure; or their own bodies in self-portraiture. They used their imaginations to expand the range of expression achievable through portraiture, these images serving to excite the imaginations of the viewers.This section introduces works that go beyond the borderline of portrait/non-portrait, expanding the image of the human body to surpass the limitations inherent in the record of a particular individual and create artistic expressions that renew the image of physical beauty.


UEDA Shoji,Girls,1945
ARIGA Toragoro, A Woman in Hongo, 1926
BAYER Herbert, Selfportrait, 1932

SANDER August, From "Antlitz der Zeit(Face of Our Time)" 1928
HALSMAN Philippe, Marilyn Monroe, 1952
NARAHARA Ikko, From "Human Land",Island without Green #28, 1954-1957
MOROMURA Yasumasa,Mother(Judith Ⅰ),1991