(Japan 1898 – 1987)
7.7 x 11.0 cm image; 8.0 x 11.4 cm sheet
Iwao YAMAWAKI was born (Iwao FUJITA) in Nagasaki, Japan in 1898. From 1921-26 he studied architecture at the Tokyo School of Arts, where he first began to take photographs. Fascinated by information and debates in magazines and publications about avant-garde practice and the activities of the Bauhaus in Germany, Yamawaki and his wife, Michiko (whose name he took), decided to move there in 1930. From 1930-32 they studied at the Bauhaus, Dessau, initially under Wassily Kandinsky and Josef Albers. Yamawaki studied interior design and architecture, and then focused on photography under the tutelage of Walter Peterhans. He also developed an interest and practice in photomontage alongside fellow student Kurt Kranz, who he invited to visit Japan after World War II.
Making trips to Berlin, Moscow and Amsterdam, Yamawaki photographed important examples of modernist architecture. He used these to illustrate his essays published in Japanese architectural journals. Most of his photography was taken during the two years he lived in Germany. In 1932 on his return to Japan, Yamawaki pursued architecture as a career, his photographic output dwindling though he continued to document important designs such as the 1934 studio he created for artist Kotaro MIGISHI. In 1939 Yamawaki's spectacular photomontages (made in conjunction with Ken DOMON) formed part of the Japanese section of the Hall of Nations at the New York World's Fair.
Yamawaki became one of Japan's most significant post-war architects, advocating Bauhaus principles by lecturing at universities, and organizing several exhibitions on Bauhaus subjects. In 1953, with his wife Michiko, Yamawaki published a book on the Bauhaus, and he is considered to have been amongst the first to introduce Bauhausian modernism into Japan in the 1930s.
Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Photography', Sydney, 2003, 292 (illus.).
Picture paradise: Asia-Pacific photography 1840s - 1940s, National Gallery of Australia, Parkes, 11 Jul 2008–09 Nov 2008