Annual Lecture: Umrao Singh Sher-Gil Grant for Photography 2018

Katsura: Picturing Modernism in Japanese Architecture; Photographs by Yasuhiro Ishimoto | Lecture by Yasufumi Nakamori

22 December 2017 | New Delhi


Yasufumi Nakamori’s Katsura: Picturing Modernism in Japanese Architecture; Photographs by Ishimoto Yasuhiro (Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, 2010) revisits a book of photographs of an elegant imperial villa in Kyoto, a seventeenth-century structure that interestingly foreshadows Western modernist design. While this errand may sound obscurantist to some, the author has a profoundly fascinating story to tell. It emerges that the architect Tange Kenzō (with Walter Gropius, who authored the original Herbert Bayer-designed book from 1960) extensively altered the vision of Ishimoto, a fledgling photographer, by drastically cropping the images to better align them with Bauhaus aesthetics, and to reinforce his own position in post-war Japanese debates on the relation of the modern to tradition. In this astutely, impeccably produced catalogue, Nakamori importantly rehabilitates Ishimoto’s initial vision of Katsura, reproducing his original, perfectly stunning photographs.’ – College Art Association


Yasufumi Nakamori heads the Department of Photography and New Media at The Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) in Minnesota, USA. As an art historian who focuses on post-1945 Japanese art, photography and architecture from a global perspective, he has authored numerous essays and three books including Katsura: Picturing Modernism in Japanese Architecture, Photographs by Yasuhiro Ishimoto (Houston: The Museum of Fine Arts, 2010) and For a New World to Come: Experiments in Japanese Art and Photography, 1968–1979 (Houston: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2015). In 2016, he contributed an essay in the volume Postwar: Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945–1965 (Haus der Kunst, 2016). As a curator of contemporary photography and time-based media at MIA, Nakamori has recently organized exhibitions with Leslie Hewitt, The Propeller Group and Omer Fast. In March 2018, he will open an exhibition, Excavating the Future City: Photographs by Naoya Hatakeyama.  Nakamori received a PhD in the history of art from Cornell University in 2011.