Daido Moriyama (b.1938, Osaka, Japan) is one of Japan's foremost contemporary photographers. He was initially trained as a graphic designer, before becoming fascinated with the world of photography and studying under Takeji Iwamiya. In 1961 Moriyama moved to Tokyo, to join the photography group VIVO before starting his career as a freelance photographer. Daido Moriyama's artworks are displayed in many prestigious and internationally respected collections including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, also in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. His photography has won many awards, including the New Artist Award from the Japan Photo Critics Association in 1967, the Photographer of the Year Award from the Photographic Society of Japan in 1983, the Mainichi Art Award in 2003, Der Kulturpreis der Deutschen Gesellschaft fur Photographie and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Photographic Society of Japan in 2004, and he was named the Recipient for Lifetime Achievement, awarded by the International Centre of Photography in 2012.
The artist also worked as an assistant for the distinguished photographer, Eikoh Hosoe, and assisted in his dark, erotic series, Ordeal by Roses, 1961-62. In the late sixties, he aligned with many avant-garde Japanese photographers including Shōmei Tōmatsu and Takuma Nakahira, and joined the radical photography magazine, PROVOKE, whose mission was to question the very nature of photography.
Moriyama's early works reveal the dark underside of urban Japanese life, and the breakdown of strict, traditional values in the post-war period. One of the photographer's aims is to reveal the hidden beauty in that which is conventionally regarded as flawed, engaging closely with the Japanese world-view of wabi-sabi which seeks beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature. Strongly inspired by Jack Kerouac's On the Road, Moriyama is interested in the importance of the journey; he wanders large metropolises and attempts to uncover the seedier sides of urban life, as well as the hidden parts of the city. In part due to these reasons, his work has a strong sense of voyeurism.
Moriyama's first major series was incorporated into a photobook entitled Japan: A Photo Theatre in 1968. Seeing the photobook as a work of art itself, Moriyama has often used it as a vehicle for displaying his static images and acknowledges it as one of the most effective ways to transmit his message. Other significant early photobooks are The Hunter and Farewell Photography, both from 1972. This latter project was part of Moriyama's aim to "destroy photography", and is now regarded as a classic work. Photographs are generally shot in black and white, yet there are rare images from a series created in the 1970s that do experiment with colour.
Urban street scenes are combined with metaphorical images of melancholy in Cherry Blossoms and his Accident series, creating a sense of tension and unease. Moriyama's working practice itself is a vital part of these early works; his photographs appear exceptionally grainy and lean towards abstraction with their blurring of the human figure. Perhaps his most famous photograph is Stray Dog from 1971, which has continued to intrigue and unnerve viewers into our present day. It has become a symbol for both post-war Japanese culture and the artist himself. In recent years, Moriyama's practice has undergone an alteration of technique. His photographs since the 1980s have been crisp and lighter in practice. These include the undulating bodily forms in his series, Tights, and the sensuously erotic series, Lips.
Influences consist of a combination of artists and writers, including the prominent American artists Andy Warhol and William Klein, the pivotal Japanese photographers Eikoh Hosoe and Tōmatsu, and the novelist Yukio Mishima. A dedicated study of Moriyama's works reveal that he also engages with and is indebted to his Japanese heritage, inspired by aspects of Japanese calligraphy and woodblock prints.