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The exhibition ‘Chicago Chicago’ at IBASHO highlights works created by Yasuhiro Ishimoto (1921 - 2012) from various periods in his long career as a photographer. Ishimoto was an important figure in the cross-pollination of photographic ideas and styles between American and Japanese photography. In ‘Chicago Chicago’ Ishimoto’s works are surrounded by photographs made by his good friend and fellow student Marvin Newman (1927) and by his peers at the famed Institute of Design in Chicago, Joseph Jachna (1935 - 2016), Kenneth Josephson (1932), Ray Metzker (1931 - 2014), Joseph Sterling (1936 - 2010) and Charles Swedlund (1935). Also included in the show are works from Ishimoto’s teachers at the Chicago’s Institute of Design and renowned photographers, Harry Callahan (1912 - 1999) and Aaron Siskind (1903 - 1991). The exhibition is meant as a visual exploration of the influence of Chicago, its Institute of Design and his peers and mentors on Ishimoto’s long photographic career.


Born in San Francisco to Japanese parents on 14 June 1921, Yasuhiro Ishimoto moved with his parents to Japan at the age of three and grew up in Kochi. He returned to the United States in 1939 in order to study agriculture at the University of California, but was detained at the Amachi Internment Camp in Armach, Colorado from 1942 to 1944. After World War II, Ishimoto moved to Chicago to study architecture at Northwestern University. He transferred to the Institute of Design in 1948 to study photography under Callahan and Siskind, earning a BS in 1952. During this time he won numerous photography awards, including twice the Moholy-Nagy Prize. He returned to Japan in 1953, where he photographed Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto on a commission from the MoMA in the same year. Ishimoto has kept residence in Japan except for a period spent in Chicago from 1959 to 1961 on a fellowship from the Minolta Corporation, which resulted in his widely known book Chicago, Chicago (Bijutsu Shuppan-sha, 1969). His work was exhibited in the seminal ‘The Family of Man’ show at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in 1955, the show ‘New Japanese Photography’ at the MoMA in 1974 and in numerous international solo exhibitions thereafter. The Art Institute of Chicago presented his career retrospective in 1999. Ishimoto became a Japanese citizen in 1969. In 1983 the Japanese government awarded Ishimoto the Medal of Honour with Purple Ribbon and in 1996 named him a ‘Person of Cultural Merit’, an honour that includes a lifelong stipend. In 2004 Ishimoto donated his archive of seven thousand photographs to the Museum of Art in Kochi, Japan. Ishimoto died at the age of 90 on 6 February 2012.


The Institute of Design in Chicago (now called IIT Institute of Design) was founded in 1937 by László Moholy-Nagy, a Bauhaus teacher. It was also dubbed as the ‘New Bauhaus’. It is regarded as the single most influential school for photography and design in mid-twentieth century America. The self-taught and well-known Harry Callahan was Head of the Photography Department at the Institute from 1946 to 1961 and he invited his also widely known colleague and good friend Aaron Siskind to join him in teaching (from 1951 - 1971). The influence of this now legendary teaching duo profoundly affected the next generation of photographers, artists and teachers.


Marvin Newman was one of the first students to earn a Master’s Degree in Photography at the Institute in 1952. He was good friends with Ishimoto and they often photographed together in the streets of Chicago. 


Joseph Jachna, Kenneth Josephson, Ray Metzker, Joseph Sterling and Charles Swedlund, formed a small and close group of students, who all graduated around 1960 and were collectively known as the ‘ID 5’. This younger generation of innovative photographers shared the distinction of appearing together in a special issue of Aperture magazine known by that title in 1961.