The dense, bustling and kaleidoscopic streetscapes of Tokyo have inspired many of Japan’s great postwar photographers. “In Focus: Tokyo,” on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, highlights work by four contemporary Japanese photographers who have explored very different aspects of life in the capital city.
Daido Moriyama, the influential master of street photography, may be the best-known of the four. He’s represented in the show by images he made in his characteristically gritty style while exploring the Shinjuku neighborhood’s nightlife. Photographer Shigeichi Nagano‘s images capture the juxtaposition of traditional and contemporary architecture in Tokyo. Since the 1950s, he’s photographed the transformation of the cityscape and how people interact with their surroundings on the city’s streets. Mikiko Hara has photographed in Tokyo’s subways, focusing on individuals and couples isolated from the bustling throngs on platforms and in crowded subway cars. Masato Seto‘s images are relatively restful: In public parks, he photographed young couples who had managed to find a patch of greenery and a little oasis of privacy in the urban metropolis. City dwellers around the globe will recognize in Seto’s subjects the need for young people to carve out a space of their own away from their crowded family apartments.
The more than 30 photos in the show, organized by senior curator Judith Keller and assistant curator Amanda Maddox, were drawn from the permanent collection of the Getty Museum, which has been acquiring works by Japanese photographers for a decade. — Holly Stuart Hughes
“In Focus: Tokyo” is currently on view through December 14, 2014 at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.