Kenzo Tange, the representative architect of postwar Japan, held a deep affection for photography. He photographed not only his own buildings and family but also numerous works of old Japanese architecture. In 1960, Tange, together with photographer Yasuhiro Ishimoto, architect Walter Gropius, and graphic designer Herbert Bayer, published a photo book titled KATSURA (Zokeisha, 1960), which not only questioned the conventional historical perspectives on Japanese architecture but also demonstrated both how the expressive medium of photography could become a creative driving force for making modern architecture and how seeing could be tied directly to creating.
Although some may already be familiar with Tange’s photographs that have been used in architectural journals and anthologies of his work, this exhibition that places its focus on Tange’s eye brings into view many previously unpublished prints. This allows us to understand which parts of his own work Tange tried to frame within his viewfinder and what he persistently attempted to capture in the work of those such as Michelangelo and Le Corbusier.
The majority of the photographs shown in this exhibition were taken during the 1950s. In terms of time period, they span from the time of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum (1952) to around the time of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office (1957), the Kagawa Prefectural Government Office (1958), the Imabari City Hall Complex (1959), and Tange’s guest professorship at MIT (1959). In terms of Tange’s age, they are from when he was 36 to 46 years old. Considering that Tange was 40 when he completed the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, he was by no means an early bloomer as an architect. This exhibition aims to trace Tange’s footsteps leading up to Yoyogi National Gymnasiums and Saint Mary's Cathedral, Tokyo (both completed in 1964) by looking through his eyes from the time before he became known as a great master. I invite you to feel where the moments that gave rise to his masterpieces occurred through the photographs shown in this exhibition.
Guest Curator Saikaku Toyokawa