Ishimoto Yasuhiro: Centennial Selections
July 26, 2021 – February 6, 2022
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ishimoto Yasuhiro (Japanese, born United States, 1921–2012), NOMA presents a selection of works from its collection that reveals the artist’s capacity for capturing humanity with both empathy and detachment, as well as his playful sense of humor and skill as a picture-maker.
Born in San Francisco, Ishimoto spent his childhood in Japan before returning to the US in 1939 as a student. In 1942, the United States imprisoned Ishimoto at the Grenada Relocation Center in Colorado, one of ten such sites where the government incarcerated about 120,000 people of Japanese descent during World War II. There, Ishimoto began using a camera for the first time. After the war, Ishimoto studied at the Institute of Design in Chicago, also known as The New Bauhaus, from 1948 to 1952. Despite his love for Chicago, Ishimoto often felt like an outsider in the country of his birth because of his racial identity; he emigrated permanently to Tokyo in 1961 and became a Japanese citizen soon thereafter.
Ishimoto favored street photography, where he focused on how people lived and moved in their environment. He created these photographs in Chicago during two periods: the first while he was still a student and the second, almost a decade later. The images feature a range of human activity: shoppers running errands, children costuming for Halloween, people working on the sidewalk, walkers resting in the park. Ishimoto’s photographs depict a buzzing city, but with a remarkable sense of quietude. From different distances and levels of personal contact, Ishimoto found unguarded moments to create photographs that, although made in public, could be surprisingly intimate.
Image: Ishimoto Yasuhiro – Untitled