Cover image for Yasuhiro Ishimoto : a tale of two cities
Yasuhiro Ishimoto : a tale of two cities
Ishimoto, Yasuhiro, 1921-2012.
First edition.
Publication Information:
Chicago, Ill. : Art Institute of Chicago, [1999]

Physical Description:
144 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 27 cm
General Note:
Catalog of an exhibition held at the Art Institute of Chicago, May 8-Sept. 12, 1999.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TR647 .I84 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Presents the photography of Yasuhiro Ishimoto, covering several decades of his career. A native of Japan, Ishimoto studied photography at the Institute of Design in Chicago from 1948 through 1952, and photographed in Chicago during 1959-61. His distinguished career in Japan would, by itself, make him worthy of American attention, but his work holds the double fascination that, even at its most Japanese, his American influence remains obvious. Includes three essays, a chronology, and high-quality bandw photos. Distributed by the U. of Washington Press. Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Author Notes

Colin Westerbeck is curator of photography at the Art Institute of Chicago & co-author of On the Art of Fixing a Shadow. He is the winner of this year's Royal Photographic Society (London) Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Now in their seventies, Hiro and Ishimoto are Japanese, though Hiro grew up in China, and Ishimoto was born in the U.S. Each later lived in Japan but honed his photographic skills in the 1950s with an American, Hiro with Richard Avedon and Ishimoto with Harry Callahan. Their choices of mentor indicate their artistic differences. Like Avedon, Hiro creates calculatedly elegant fashion, portrait, and still-life photos. Even his black-and-white images of commuters pressed against the doors of Tokyo subway cars, though necessarily informal, appear carefully managed, attesting to an eye sharpened by his practice technique of striving to render a single subject with total freshness in every exposure. The fashion work here is mostly in color, the portraiture mostly in black and white, and the most personal work in both. His manipulation of focus requires close attention to the sharper and softer areas within the frame to fully apprehend, but his exploitation of photography's surrealist possibilities is immediately noticeable. Hiro's surrealism stresses wit and humanism, as in his parody of Michelangelo's vision of the Creation in which a robot's hand stands in for Adam's, a screaming chimp's for God's. Ishimoto is a street photographer like Callahan, gifted with the patience to wait for an effective composition to present itself, as in the image of newspaper pages blowing through Chicago's Grant Park that is the cover illustration and frontispiece of this companion to a summer 1999 exhibition, or to move about a stationary subject until he finds the right view, as in the pictures of historic Japanese buildings that portray them as premonitory of modern architecture. Most of Ishimoto's work is black and white, and he prints very carefully to educe the precise visual textures of, say, footprints in snow or a leaf glued to the ground by moisture. He has a lively concern for society's underdogs, and many of his Chicago pictures from 1949^-51 and 1959^-61 sympathetically present poor people, sometimes juxtaposed with cold-appearing, well-dressed persons. Those who love the photos of other great street masters, such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Roy DeCarava, and Helen Leavitt, will respond to Ishimoto's with similar warmth. --Ray Olson

Choice Review

Ishimoto was born in San Francisco in 1921 to Japanese parents, who returned to Japan three years later. In 1939 he came back to the US to study, but his education was interrupted in 1941 when he was sent to an internment camp. Released in 1945, he moved to Chicago and in 1948 he began studies in photography at the Institute of Design. Finishing his degree in 1952, he returned to Japan, where he has pursued a career as an influential photographer and educator. In 1996, his nation bestowed on him the honor of a "person of cultural merit." This book documents Ishimoto's lifelong relationships with Chicago (a city to which he has returned to work on several occasions) and Japan, and notably his gift of a major body of his work to the Art Institute of Chicago. The pictures date from 1948 to 1997 and include a limited representation of his photography in Japan: in Kyoto at the Katsura Villa, at Ise, and on the streets of Tokyo. Colin Westerbeck (curator at the AIC) wrote the most substantive essay; additional essays are by Fuminori Yokoe (Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography) and architect Arata Isozaki, who focuses on Ishimoto's photographs of Katsura. The 100-plus images are well reproduced. Highly recommended. General readers; undergraduates through professionals. P. C. Bunnell; Princeton University