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Shomei Tomatsu: Skin of the Nation [Hardcover]

Sandra S Phillips , Leo Rubinfien , John W Dower
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

31 Aug 2004
Japan's brilliant and influential postwar photographer Shomei Tomatsu (b. 1930) has created some of the most dramatic images in the history of photography. Many of his photographs have become icons of the twentieth century. This important book is the first in-depth English-language study of Tomatsu's work. Richly illustrated and handsomely designed, it features more than one hundred plates representing - in ten thematic sections - the full range of his career. Tomatsu emerged in the 1950s with his sensitive pictures of postwar Japan. In the 1960s the artist turned his camera to the aftermath of the atomic bomb and the lingering presence of the U. S. military in his homeland. In subsequent decades his lens has captured the elation of Japan's economic boom and the problems inspired by his culture's increasing westernisation. Throughout, Tomatsu's pictures have consistently resonated not only with Japanese society but also with American culture. Included in this book are essays by distinguished scholars on all aspects of the artist's life and career as well as a selection of brief excerpts from Tomatsu's own writings, many of which have never appeared in English. Skin of the Nation is both a literal and metaphorical reference to the surfaces that have appeared in countless pictures throughout Tomatsu's career. For the artist, skin is more than just a surface, it is a kind of map in which one can read the story of Japan - its essence and its future.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First edition edition (31 Aug 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300106041
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300106046
  • Product Dimensions: 26.6 x 23.6 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,135,052 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Tomatsu's intensely subjective themes and experimental images were decisive to me in my youth... I had eyes for no other photographer." - Daido Moriyama, foreword to Shomei Tomatsu"

About the Author

Sandra S. Phillips is senior curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Leo Rubinfien is a photographer and frequent contributor to Art in America; John W. Dower is professor of history at M.I.T. and winner of numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award; Daido Moriyama is one of the most important photographers living in Japan today.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The selection here is slightly patchy, but this is probably due to the book being the catalogue for an exhibition. Otherwise it is a pretty comprehensive retrospective of his career. Images from his Screen and Eros series are poor, the Chewing Gum and Chocolate series is patchy. Tomatsu is at his best when he appears at his simplest and not when he's trying to seem experimental or clever. That's not to say his 'simple' images are plainly simple, I say this in the way Bressons best images are simple. He captures a moment. Whereas projections of slides on a girls ass seems rather A Level photography.

A third of the book is taken up by essay, leaving over a 100 good sized images. You feel disappointed the images in the essay section are not larger though! The design is good, but not good design for the images. Images read better if given a good sized white boarder on all sides and spreading images over two pages is plain annoying. The design likes itself too much and doesn't respect the images enough to stand for themselves. design shouldn't distract from the images. Sorry I'm old fashioned.

The printing seems a little soft here too, the Phadon 55 printing is the opposite, being rather harsh. The Phadon 55 is a very good bargain for first tastes of an artists work, then try this book. Phadon has 55 images, this book has about 112 good sized plates, the exhibition had around 250 images. I wish the book had been a little more comprehensive.

Everyone half civilised can name at least one Japanese Author, it seems odd that a photographer who requires no translation (everyone knows enough about Japan to make sense of these images), is unknown to most in the West. I can only think cultural racism is to blame, as Tomatsu should be as well known as his American and European contemporaries. It's time to catch up, and hopefully more work will become available in English publications. And better quality printing too...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Shomei Tomatsu: Skin of the Nation 2 July 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
simply excellent book.Big.full of pictures.breath taking, a great collection of pictures.
fine quality of print. nice ilustrations and set of pictures.

this book is one of my favorite
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different perspective of War 30 Jun 2006
By mcLace - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As I stumbled across the Shomei Tomatsu exhibit last August I had no idea how much his work would impact me. Everytime I look at this book I find something new. In this book, Shomei Tomatsu documents pre and post war Japan in the 1950s. He depicts startling images of westerization on Japanese Culture, and the effects of hiroshima. The everyday moments he captured speak in volumes and sheds a new light on an era that changed Japanese culture forever.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Skin of the Nation 6 Aug 2006
By Cricket McGehee - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a high caliber photographic book. The images are stunning and the layout is easy to navigate. The text is informative and well written, but nothing compares to the visuals.
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent photographer 21 April 2009
By gata - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The work of this photographer is simply amazing and shocking, really interesting view about thinks around him, original and new and impacting..the only thing I didn't like is that the 1/3 of the book are forewords..but definitely it's worth !!!
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing book from an amazing exhibition 16 Aug 2008
By caleb - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
When I saw this exhibition 4 years ago it blew me away. Shomei Tomatsu is such a treasure and captured Japans post war period like no other, with such depth and meaning. This is a great book, great print quality
4.0 out of 5 stars beautiful, haunting, and funny 12 May 2007
By Kelley Sayre - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is book is beautiful. I had the pleasure to see the exhibition of Tomatsu's work at the Corcoran a few years ago, and several images were burned into my mind. Particularly the image of a bottle after an atomic blast, the cigarettes & bubble gum series, and an untitled piece with a big blob of reddish orange pigment splat in the middle of the frame. (I am writing this from memory and don't have the advantage to just flip thru the book at this moment to find the exact titles...) His work is very much street photographer - and he's good at evoking emotion. Think Robert Doisneau with an Asian flair for simplicity.
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