Shōmei Tōmatsu: Skin of the Nation (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2004)

Shomei Tomatsu, who died aged 82 in 2012, was perhaps the most influential Japanese photographer of the postwar era.






” His raw, grainy and impressionistic style signalled a dramatic break with the quiet formalism that defined earlier Japanese photography, and it influenced many younger photographers, including his friend Daido Moriyama and the often controversial Nobuyoshi Araki.

Tomatsu’s best-known photograph is Melted Bottle, Nagasaki, 1961. It looks at first glance like a skinned animal, but is a beer bottle rendered grotesque and muscular-looking by the intense heat of the nuclear blast that devastated Nagasaki on 9 August 1945.


In 2006, a major retrospective of his work was held at the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. It was called Skin of the Nation. Few photographers have looked so closely and penetratingly at and beneath the skin of a nation as Tomatsu did when he turned his camera on his homeland. The results remain by turns startling, disturbing and complex, imbued with all the contradictions he felt about Japan, photography, himself.” Sean O’Hagan






With texts by Leo Rubinfien, Sandra S. Phillips and John W. Dower, Preface by Daido Moriyama. 224 pages,
131 Duplex- and 28 colour illustrations, format 24 x 26,5 cm, hardcover with dust jacket.