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Iwao Yamawaki
Iwao Yamawaki

Iwao Yamawaki

Country: Japan
Birth: 1898 | Death: 1987

Iwao Yamawaki, born Iwao Fujita, was a Japanese photographer and architect who trained at the Bauhaus. Born in Nagasaki, Yamawaki studied architecture at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts (now the Tokyo University of the Arts) from 1921 to 1926. After his graduation, he worked as an architect for the Yokogawa Construction Company and began to take photographs, which he submitted to the publications and competitions of Kenchiku Gakkai (the Society for Architectural Research).

He was active in theatre circles as a costume and set designer and in 1926 he founded the Ningyō-za theatre in Tokyo with Koreya Senda (1904–1994) and others, and became involved with Tan'i Sanka, an avant-garde artists' group, where he met the Bauhaus student Sadanosuke Nakada (1888–1970), and where he later became friends with Takehiko Mizutani (1898–1969), the first Japanese student to study at the Bauhaus.

He was formally introduced to Michiko Yamawaki (1910–2000), an heiress and the eldest daughter of a wealthy businessman, whom he married in 1928. He was asked by her father to adopt her family name, which he did in return for is new family-in-law financing the opportunity for both of them to study at the Bauhaus.

In May 1930 Iwao and Michiko left Japan for New York, where they spent two months, before traveling to Berlin, where they were reunited with Koreya Senda, who had already been living in Berlin for about two years. Senda, a politically active socialist, was involved with underground theatre in Berlin, and with the Japanese artistic community in the city, to which he introduced the Yamawaki to. They often gathered in decadent bars, such as the El Dorado, a famous gay, lesbian and trans venue.

In 1930 Yamawakis, together with Senda, the painter Osuke Shimazaki, lacquer artist Kotaro Fukuoka and photographer Hiroshi Yoshizawa, founded the design studio Tomoe in Berlin. The studio produced posters, gift-wrap paper, and leaflets, and undertook window dressing and interior design for Japanese restaurants.

In October 1930 the couple began Josef Albers' first semester preliminary course at the Bauhaus in Dessau. In April 1931 Michiko went on to study in the weaving workshop and Iwao initially studied architecture, but a few months later he changed to the photography course taught by Walter Peterhans. Iwao developed a close friendship with fellow student and later Bauhaus teacher Kurt Kranz. Kranz was interested in photomontage and introduced Yamawaki to it.

Iwao Yamawaki had a strong interest in architectural photography and took many photographs of the exterior and interior of the famous Bauhaus Dessau building complex, as well as of buildings in Berlin, Amsterdam and Moscow. His photographs are strongly influenced by the Neues Sehen (New Vision), an avant-garde movement of the 1920s and 1930s espoused by Bauhaus teacher László Moholy-Nagy, which encouraged photography of ordinary scenes using unfamiliar perspectives and angles, close-up details, use of light and shadow, and experimentation with multiple exposure.

Senda and his wife, Irma, returned to Japan in January 1931 on the Trans-Siberian Railway. They stayed for a time in Moscow on their way back, and Yamawakis and several others in the Berlin Japanese artistic community joined them for a week, visiting the theatre and seeing the sights. The couple remained in Germany until the Bauhaus Dessau closed at the end of August 1932, when they returned to Japan.

On his return to Tokyo, Yamawaki taught photography for 6 months at the Shinkenchiku kōgei (New Architecture and Design College), which was known as the 'Japanese Bauhaus'. He exhibited some of his work, but was dissatisfied with the Japanese photographic scene and gave up photography altogether.

He became a successful architect and designed houses for the wealthy, developing a hybrid Japanese and Western design style, with architects such as Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier as his influences. Yamawaki also worked as an architectural journalist and was widely published. He designed a modernist villa for himself and his wife in 1934 and they furnished it with pieces that they imported from Germany, such as the Wassily Chair. He established his own architectural office in 1939 and designed the interiors of the Japanese pavilion in the Government Zone at the 1939–1940 New York World's Fair.

The Yamawakis had two children in the late 1930s – early 1940s. Although they had mixed in a socialist milieu in Germany, during World War II they collaborated with the ruling Japanese fascist regime. In 1953 Yamawaki designed the Haiyūza theatre for his old friend Koreya Senda, and in 1954 and 1971 Iwao and Michiko Yamawaki brought Bauhaus exhibitions to Japan. However, in the post-war years, they both largely fell into obscurity.

Source: Wikipedia


 

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In March 1922, determined to see Robo's vision realized, she mounted a two-week exhibition of Robo's and Weston's work at the National Academy of Fine Arts in Mexico City. She sustained a second loss with the death of her father, which forced her to return to San Francisco later in March 1922. In 1923, Modotti returned to Mexico City with Weston and his son Chandler, leaving behind Weston's wife Flora and their youngest three children. She agreed to run Weston's studio free of charge in return for his mentoring her in photography. Together they opened a portrait studio in Mexico City. Modotti and Weston quickly gravitated toward the capital's bohemian scene and used their connections to create an expanding portrait business. Together they found a community of cultural and political "avant-gardists", which included Frida Kahlo, Lupe Marín, Diego Rivera, and Jean Charlot. In general, Weston was moved by the landscape and folk art of Mexico to create abstract works, while Modotti was more captivated by the people of Mexico and blended this human interest with a modernist aesthetic. Modotti also became the photographer of choice for the blossoming Mexican mural movement, documenting the works of José Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera. Between 1924 and 1928, Modotti took hundreds of photographs of Rivera's murals at the Secretariat of Public Education in Mexico City. Modotti's visual vocabulary matured during this period, such as her formal experiments with architectural interiors, blooming flowers, urban landscapes, and especially in her many beautiful images of peasants and workers during the depression. In 1926, Modotti and Weston were commissioned by Anita Brenner to travel around Mexico and take photographs for what would become her influential book Idols Behind Altars. The relative contributions of Modotti and Weston to the project has been debated. Weston's son Brett, who accompanied the two on the project, indicated that the photographs were taken by Edward Weston. In 1925, Modotti joined International Red Aid, a Communist organization. In November 1926, Weston left Mexico and returned to California. During this time Modotti met several political radicals and Communists, including three Mexican Communist Party leaders who would all eventually become romantically linked with her: Xavier Guerrero, Julio Antonio Mella, and Vittorio Vidali. Starting in 1927, a much more politically active Modotti (she joined the Mexican Communist Party that year) found her focus shifting and more of her work becoming politically motivated. Around that time her photographs began appearing in publications such as Mexican Folkways, Forma, and the more radically motivated El Machete, the German Communist Party's Arbeiter-Illustrierte-Zeitung (AIZ), and New Masses. Mexican photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo divided Modotti's career as a photographer into two distinct categories: "Romantic" and "Revolutionary", with the former period including her time spent as Weston's darkroom assistant, office manager and, finally, creative partner. Her later works were the focus of her one-woman retrospective exhibition at the National Library in December 1929, which was advertised as "The First Revolutionary Photographic Exhibition In Mexico". As a result of the anti-communist campaign by the Mexican government, Modotti was exiled from Mexico in 1930. She first spent several months in Berlin, followed by several years in Moscow. Traveling on a restricted visa that mandated her final destination as Italy, Modotti initially stopped in Berlin and from there visited Switzerland. The Italian government made concerted efforts to extradite her as a subversive national, but with the assistance of International Red Aid activists, she evaded detention by the fascist police. She apparently intended to make her way into Italy to join the anti-fascist resistance there. In response to the deteriorating political situation in Germany and her own exhausted resources, however, she followed the advice of Vittorio Vidali and moved to Moscow in 1931. After 1931, Modotti no longer photographed. Reports of later photographs are unsubstantiated. During the next few years she engaged in various missions on behalf of the Workers International Relief organizations as a Comintern agent in Europe. When the Spanish Civil War erupted in 1936, Vidali (then known as "Comandante Carlos") and Modotti (using the pseudonym "Maria") left Moscow for Spain, where they stayed and worked until 1939. She worked with Canadian Dr. Norman Bethune during the disastrous retreat from Málaga in 1937. In 1939, following the collapse of the Republican movement in Spain, Modotti left Spain with Vidali and returned to Mexico under a pseudonym. In 1942, at the age of 45, Modotti died from heart failure while on her way home in a taxi from a dinner at Hannes Meyer's home in Mexico City, under what are viewed by some as suspicious circumstances. After hearing about her death, Diego Rivera suggested that Vidali had orchestrated it. Modotti may have "known too much" about Vidali's activities in Spain, which included a rumoured 400 executions. An autopsy showed that she died of natural causes, namely congestive heart failure. Her grave is located within the vast Panteón de Dolores in Mexico City. Source: Wikipedia
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