Press RoomPhoenix Art Museum presents major exhibition of postwar Japanese avant-garde photography

Phoenix Art Museum presents major exhibition of postwar Japanese avant-garde photography

Phoenix Art Museum presents major exhibition of postwar Japanese avant-garde photography
Jan, 28, 2022

Exhibitions and Special InstallationsPhotography

Phoenix Art Museum presents major exhibition of postwar Japanese avant-garde photography

Farewell Photography: The Hitachi Collection of Postwar Japanese Photographs, 1961-1989 explores the radical reconsideration of the photographic medium through outstanding works from the Center for Creative Photography

PHOENIX (January 28, 2022) – Phoenix Art Museum announces the recent opening of a new exhibition that explores the radical evolution of photography in post-World War II Japan. Featuring works from 1961 through 1989 by 19 contemporary Japanese photographers who played integral roles in shaping Japanese photography of the postwar period. Farewell Photography: The Hitatchi Collection of Postwar Japanese Photographs, 1961-1989 displays 87 of these prints gifted by the Hitachi Corporation to the Center for Creative Photography together for the first time. The exhibition, curated by Audrey Sands, the Norton Family Curator of Photography, and Adam Monohon, former Curatorial Assistant at the Center for Creative Photography, will be on view through June 26, 2022 in the Norton Family Photography Gallery in the Museum’s Katz (South) Wing.

“We are excited to collaborate with the Center of Creative Photography once again to bring this unique aspect of their collection to our audiences in Phoenix and beyond,” said Mark Koenig, the Interim Sybil Harrington Director and CEO of Phoenix Art Museum. “Farewell Photography provides a unique opportunity for Museum visitors to experience a category of photography that helped shaped the photographic medium for Japan and across the globe, a glimpse into the evolution of the medium as it was shaped by experience of war and the beginning of the nuclear age.”

In the decades following World War II, as Japan recovered from the devastation wrought by the global conflict and U.S military occupation (1945-1952), numerous Japanese photographers undertook an aggressive reassessment of the photographic medium. New non-conformists broke from photojournalism’s norms of objective depiction and emerged adopting new ideals of a radically expressive, subjective, and critical approach that became known as are-bure-boke (literally translated to “rough, blurred, and out-of-focus”). This new aesthetic responded to the realities of a rapidly changing, modernizing, and westernizing Japan, struggling to recover not only from the war but from the horrors of nuclear destruction, and questioned traditional associations of photography with truth, patriotism, and complacency.

In 1988 and 1990, through grants from the Hitachi Corporation, the Center for Creative Photography (CCP) acquired 87 works by 19 contemporary Japanese photographers who promoted are-bure-boke and played integral roles in shaping Japanese photography of the postwar period. Farewell Photography: The Hitachi Collection of Postwar Japanese Photographs, 1961-1989 displays all 87 of these prints from CCP’s collection together for the first time since they were acquired more than 30 years ago. Featured works include gritty, starkly contrasted, black-and-white photographs from Daidō Moriyama’s seminal 1972 photobook, Farewell Photography, from which the exhibition takes its name, which heralded photography’s departure from the medium’s previous commitments to propriety, stillness, and objective rendering of facts. Additional artists showcased throughout the exhibition include Masahisa Fukase, Shōmei Tōmatsu, Miyako Ishiuchi, Eikoh Hosoe, and others. Miyako Ishiuchi is a pivotal figure in Japanese photography as a woman practicing in a male-dominated field. Her groundbreaking works have been influential for a younger generation of women photographers, most notable for merging political messages with a highly personal and subjective approach.

“This collection brings an opportunity to dig into some previously unexplored strengths of CCP’s collection. Not very many institutions, aside from the leading institutions of photography, have as concentrated a collection in this particular area,” said Audrey Sands, the Norton Family Assistant Curator of Photography, who curated the exhibition. “I hope this exhibition introduces viewers to this special group of photographers who represented this radical new vision. I want to highlight how provocative this style was during a loaded and controversial political moment in Japan. When I think about our audience in Phoenix, I want to broaden the view beyond the North American-centric story of the history of modern photography and look at this extraordinary rich and edgy cultural output, and the way that photography was used as protest. To have a more global understanding of this period of social unrest and of a generation that was challenging governments and norms is, I think, a critical vocabulary for us to better understand our own time.”

About the Exhibition
Farewell Photography: The Hitachi Collection of Postwar Japanese Photographs, 1961-1989 will be on view through June 26, 2022 in the Norton Photography Gallery. It is organized by Phoenix Art Museum and the Center for Creative Photography. It is made possible through the generosity of the John R. and Doris Norton Center for Creative Photography Endowment Fund, with additional support from the Museum’s Circles of Support and Museum Members. For more details about the exhibition, please click here. 

Admission is free for Museum Members; veterans, active-duty military, and their immediate families; and youth aged 5 and younger. Entrance into the exhibition is included in general admission for the public. During voluntary-donation times, the exhibition is offered to the public included with voluntary “pay-what-you-wish” admission. Voluntary-donation times include Wednesdays from 3 – 9 pm and the first Friday of each month from 5 – 9 pm. For a full breakdown of general-admission prices and hours, see

High-resolution photography can be downloaded here. To request interviews, contact the Communications Office of Phoenix Art Museum at 602.257.2117 or

About Phoenix Art Museum
Since 1959, Phoenix Art Museum has provided millions of guests with access to world-class art and experiences in an effort to ignite imaginations, create meaningful connections, and serve as a brave space for all people who wish to experience the transformative power of art. Located in Phoenix’s Central Corridor, the Museum is a vibrant destination for the visual arts and the largest art museum in the southwestern United States. Each year, more than 300,000 guests engage with critically acclaimed national and international exhibitions and the Museum’s collection of more than 20,000 works of American and Western American, Asian, European, Latin American, modern and contemporary art, and fashion design. The Museum also presents a comprehensive film program, live performances, and educational programs designed for visitors of all ages, along with vibrant photography exhibitions made possible through the Museum’s landmark partnership with the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona. To learn more about Phoenix Art Museum, visit, or call 602.257.1880.

About the Center for Creative Photography
The Center for Creative Photography is recognized as one of the world’s finest academic art museums and study centers for the history of photography. The Center opened in 1975, following a meeting between then University President Dr. John Schaefer and world-renowned photographer Ansel Adams. Beginning with the archives of five living master photographers—Ansel Adams, Wynn Bullock, Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, and Frederick Sommer—the collection has grown to include 270 archival collections. Among these are some of the most recognizable names in 20th-century North American photography: Lola Álvarez Bravo, W. Eugene Smith, Edward Weston, and Garry Winogrand. Altogether, there are over eight million archival objects in the Center’s collection including negatives, work prints, contact sheets, albums, scrapbooks, correspondence, writings, audiovisual materials and memorabilia. In addition to whole archival collections, the Center also actively acquires individual photographs by modern and contemporary photographers. There are currently more than 110,000 works by over 2,200 photographers. A library of books, journals, and exhibition and auction catalogues, including many rare publications, plus an extensive oral history collection complements the archival and fine print collections. The combined art, archival, and research collections at the Center provide an unparalleled resource for research, exhibitions, loans, and traveling exhibitions. The Center has a full schedule of exhibitions, programs, and events designed to deepen an understanding of how the medium impacts society. For more details, as well as information on Center membership and ways to get involved, visit

Share this:

What can we help you find?

Need further assistance?
Please call Visitor Services at 602.257.1880 or email