Eiko Yamazawa, who was born in Osaka, Japan, in 1899, studied photography in the United States in the 1920s and embarked on a more than 50-year career as one of the country’s first women photographers in the 1930s. After initially working predominantly with portraiture, she became known as an artist who made photographic works resembling abstract paintings late in her career, in the 1980s. Her vibrant color photographs, in particular, were unlike anything in Japan at the time. Presented under the title 〈What I Am Doing〉, this series of work includes highly conceptual pieces in which she has photographed her photography supplies and her own work from the past. Yamazawa arrived at such unique artistic expressions after engaging in ceaseless formal experimentation through her photography beginning in the 1950s.
This exhibition was organized to commemorate the 120th anniversary of Yamazawa’s birth in collaboration with the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum. Featuring 140 works, including color and monochrome pieces from Yamazawa’s abstract photography series 〈What I Am Doing〉 from the 1970s and 1980s, her early work with abstraction from photo books from the 1960s, and portraits and other related materials from before World War II, this exhibition traces the steps of the photographer who continued to create work on a different plane from the mainstream of Japanese photography.
Yamazawa’s works will be joined by works from the TOP collection by photographers active in the United States in the 1920s, when she was studying there. Photographs by Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, Ralph Steiner, and fashion and advertising photography by Cecil Beaton, John Rawlings, and Paul Outerbridge are present to explore the influences on Yamazawa of the photography she experienced in the United States in the 1920s. We hope you will enjoy exploring this exhibition.