Yasuzo Nojima (1889 – 1964) is well known for his contributions to both Japanese and world photography as an artist and publisher. He was instrumental in raising photography’s status as a fine art in Japan in the 1930s, his work ranging from kaiga shugi shashin (pictorial photography) to shinkō shashin (new/straight photography) of the early twentieth century.
Nojima’s earliest works were gum-dichromate prints characterized by a density and heaviness echoing that of pictorialism, based in his subtle sensitivity. In the 1930s, his style takes a drastic turn under the influence of new trends in German photography, shifting toward daringly cropped gelatin silver prints in pursuit of a form of expression that is unique to the medium. The photography magazine Kōga (Light Pictures; 1932–33), which he co-founded with fellow photographers Nakayama Iwata (1895–1949) and Kimura Ihei (1901–1974), was principally funded by Nojima and played an extremely important role in the subsequent development of shinkō shashin by introducing theories and a new photographic aesthetic to Japan, one that concentrated on the technical and aesthetic qualities of photography in its own right rather than as an imitation of paintings, providing a much-needed outlet for a younger generation of photographers.
Nojima’s later still lifes and nudes, though still soft, were striking in their simple and direct forms. He is particularly well known for his unidealized nudes of “ordinary” Japanese women executed in both pictorialist and modernist styles.
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- Nojima Yasuzo (Photographer of Japan)
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