MASAHISA FUKASE : RAVENS

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Data sheet

Title Ravens
Artist Masahisa Fukase
Year 2017
Medium Blind embossed clothbound hardback in a silkscreen printed carton slipcase
Size 26,5 x 26,5 cm
Pages 148
Language English & Japanese

More info

Ravens by Japanese photographer Masahisa Fukase is consistently proclaimed as one of the most important photobooks in the history of the medium. Interpreted as a personal and political allegory for post-war Japan, it is a brutal, yet beautiful story of love and loss.

First published in 1984, the book has long been out of print. This bilangual facsimile of the first edition contains a new text by founder of the Masahisa Fukase Archives, Tomo Kosuga. His essay locates Ravens in Fukase's wider work and life, and is illustrated with numerous recently discovered photographs and drawings.

Fukase’s haunting series of work was made between 1975 and 1986 in the aftermath of a divorce and was apparently triggered by a mournful train journey to his hometown. The coastal landscapes of Hokkaido serve as the backdrop for his profoundly dark and impressionistic photographs of ominous flocks of crows. The work has been interpreted as an ominous allegory for postwar Japan. 

"Ravens is one of the defining bodies of work in the history of photography and a high point in the photo book genre. This accumulation of accolades, and the passing of time, have obscured much of the fascinating detail which explains the artist’s pre-occupation with this motif throughout his work. It was not simply a reflection of the existential angst and anhedonia he suffered throughout his life but manifested in artistic self-identification with the raven and ultimately spiralled into a solitary existence and artistic practice on the edge of madness. And all this before an untimely accident in 1992, a fall down the stairs of his favourite bar, resulted in him spending the final twenty years before his death with his consciousness suspended and in medical isolation. Fukase became the singular raven frozen by his camera and immortalized on the cover of his most famous book." - Tomo Kosuga from his essay Cries of Solitude [2017]

With the original afterword by Akira Hasegawa [1986] and a new text by Tomo Kosuga [both bilingual].

About the artist:

Masahisa Fukase (b. 1934, Hokkaido; d. 2012) graduated from the Nihon University College of Art’s Photography Department in 1956. He became a freelance photographer in 1968 after working at the Nippon Design Center and Kawade Shobo Publishers. His major books include Yugi [Homo Ludence] (Chuokoron-sha, 1971); Yohko (Asahi Sonorama, 1978), and Karasu [Ravens] (Sokyu-sha, 1986). Countless solo exhibitions have been dedicated to Fukase’s work, and his photographs have been included in group exhibitions at the MoMA, NY; Oxford Museum of Art; Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, Paris; V&A, London. Fukase also won numerous prizes, including the 2nd Ina Nobuo Award in 1976 for his exhibition “Karasu” and the Special Award at the 8th Higashikawa Photography Awards in 1992. Fukase tragically fell down a set of stairs in 1992 and suffered a traumatic brain injury from which he never recovered. He passed away in 2012.

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MASAHISA FUKASE : RAVENS

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