Nobuyoshi ARAKI

Nobuyoshi Araki was born on 25 May 1940 in Tokyo. In 1959, he went to Chiba University where he studied film and photography, receiving his degree in 1963. In 1964, he won a photography contest organised by The Sun with Satchin and would show these photographs of neighbourhood elementary school boys in his first solo exhibition the following year in Tokyo. After graduating, he started working as a commercial photographer at Dentsu, an advertising agency where, in 1968, he met his future wife, the essayist Yoko Aoki. In 1971, Araki married Yoko. The following year, he left Dentsu.


In 1974, Araki formed the Photo Workshop School alongside fellow Japanese photographers Shomei Tomatsu, Daido Moriyama, Eiko Hosoe, Masahisa Fukase and Noriaki Yokosuka. Over the next two decades, Araki would release new series of his work in magazines and editorials, as well as in exhibitions. One of these magazines, Shashin Jidai, eventually closes down in 1988 under police orders on the grounds of obscenity in Araki’s photography. In 1992, Araki had his first one-man show in Europe, opening in Graz Austria, which would travel around ten European cities over the next four years. Araki’s first solo American show opens in 1994, the same year he turns down an offer to exhibit at the Venice Biennale. In 1997, his first retrospective, ‘Araki Retrographs’, is held at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo.


Araki is best known for his eroticised nude photography, often depicting bound women in the manner of kinbaku, which question concepts of art and pornography. Yet his oeuvre also encompasses skyscapes, still-lifes, everyday urban life, with a particular focus on his native Tokyo, and his beloved cat, Chiro. In 2005, Araki was the subject of a documentary titled Arakimentari. He continues to live and work in Tokyo.


Araki's works are part of numerous significant public collections including that of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Art Institute of Chicago; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Tate Collection, London; and the Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland. Important photobooks have included Sentimental Journey, 1971, Tokyo Lucky Hole, 1985, and Sentimental Journey/Winter Journey, 1991. One of his most recent projects was To the Past, 2012, which incorporates many of the artist's black and white photographs from 1979 until 2011. Araki's photographs have won many important awards, including the aforementioned 1964 prize for Satchin, the 1990 Shashin-no-kai prize from the Photographic Society of Japan, the 1991 7th Higashjkawa Prize, the 1994 Japan Inter-Design Forum Grand Prix, and more recently the 2008 Austrian Decoration of Honour for Science and Arts.