The Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck Collection traces the development of Japanese photography through works spanning the 1880s to 2015. From experimental treatments of the medium to trenchant views of postwar Tokyo and contemporary society, the collection joins the Sackler’s extraordinary print holdings to offer an outstanding range of artistic responses to Japan’s modern history.
The earliest photographs in the collection are hand-colored portraits and scenes, dating from the 1880s to 1900, by early photographers working in Japan, such as Felice Beato (1832–1909), Baron Raimon von Stillfried (1838–1911), Kusakabe Kimbei (active 1880s), and Tamamura Kozaburo (1856–1923?). These photographs complement the Freer|Sackler Archives’ Henry and Nancy Rosin Collection of hand-colored albumen prints, cartes de visite, albums, and luminous mammoth-plate portraits. Together, they further illustrate the range of nineteenth-century photographic production in Japan, by both Western visitors and Japanese studios.
Over fifty works dating from the 1920s and 1930s demonstrate the pictorialist and surrealist tendencies in prewar Japanese photography. Early practitioners, such as Shiihara Osamu (1905–1974), Yamamoto Kansuke (1914–1987), and a small group of Japanese American photographers, experimented with the medium to create dynamic portraits and mysterious still lifes as rotogravures, solarized ferrotypes, hand-colored and toned prints, and unique collages.
The Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck Collection includes rare works by surrealist master Ueda Shoji (1913–2000), along with prints by Ei-Q (1911–1960), Kijima Takashi (1920–2011), and others influenced by European artists such as Man Ray, Andre Kertesz, Max Ernst, and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. The collection also holds stellar examples of conceptual works from the 1960s and 1970s, such as those by Maita Masafumi (1944–2009) and Mochizuki Masao (born 1939).
Postwar Japan prompted other photographers to explore the documentary approach, from social realism to a more subjective vision. Notable examples include Hayashi Tadahiko’s (1918–1990) image of street children, Yamamura Gasho’s (1939–1987) shots of the former Washington Heights section of Tokyo, and Nagano Shigeichi’s (born 1925) views of the new consumer society.
Modern and contemporary masters including Hamaya Hiroshi (1915–1999), Tomatsu Shomei (1930–2012), Hosoe Eikoh (born 1933), Kawada Kikuji (born 1933), Suda Issei (born 1940), Fukase Masahisa (1934–2012), Moriyama Daido (born 1938), and Hatakeyama Naoya (born 1958) are also among the more than 120 artists represented in the collection.
Another feature of the Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck Collection is the significant number of works by important Japanese female artists, such as Ishiuchi Miyako (born 1947), Toshiko Okanoue (born 1928), Anrakuji Emi (born 1963), and Sawada Tomoko (born 1977), among others. Their photography spans several decades and exemplifies a range of subjects, styles, and historical influences, adding a critical dimension to the representation of women in the Freer|Sackler collections.
— Smithsonian, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery