Shomei Tomatsu - Phillips, Sandra S.; Rubinfien, Leo; Dower, John W.; Moriyama, Daido - Yale University Press
Art and Architecture

Published in association with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art  

Shomei Tomatsu

Skin of the Nation

  • Sandra S. Phillips, Leo Rubinfien, and John W. Dower; Preface by Daido Moriyama
      REVIEWS             PREVIEW             CONTENTS             EXCERPTS      


Out of Print.

Won third place in the 2004 New York Book Show

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 westernization. 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 (the book’s subtitle) 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.

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.

“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: Skin of the Nation


Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (May 21 to August 29, 2005)

Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (September 1 – November 19, 2006)

Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague (January 12 – April 8, 2007)

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (May 13 – Aug 13, 2006)

La Galleria Civica di Modena, Italy (May 20 – July 22, 2007)