Daido Moriyama wins the 2019 Hasselblad Foundation International Award

Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama has won the 2019 Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography, which is worth SEK1,000,000 (approximately £80,700). Moriyama will now have a show at the Hasselblad Center in Gothenburg this autumn, and a new book of his work will be published by Walther König.

Born in Osaka in 1938, Moriyama studied photography under Takeji Iwamiya before moving to Tokyo in 1961 to work as an assistant to Eikoh Hosoe. Producing a series of images titled Nippon gekijō shashinchō [published in English as Japan: A Photo Theater], Moriyama created an impressionistic take on the dark side of urban life that soon became synonymous with Provoke magazine, a publication he helped produce in 1969. Celebrating images that were “are, bure, bokeh” [“grainy/rough, blurry, and out-of-focus’], and giving a critical view of post-war Japan, Provoke was short-lived but profoundly influential both at home and abroad.

Moriyama is still creating new work, however, recently telling that Hasselblad Foundation that “It’s fun!”. “I just take photos, or want to take photos, so to do that, because my photos are snapshots on the street, I simply go outside and walk,” he added. “I’ve been constantly walking for 55 years now. I walk, I encounter, I shoot.”

“Daido Moriyama is one of Japan’s most renowned photographers, celebrated for his radical approach to both medium and subject,” stated the Hasselblad Foundation. “Moriyama’s images embrace a highly subjective but authentic approach. Reflecting a harsh vision of city life and its chaos of everyday existence and unusual characters, his work occupies a unique space between the illusory and the real. Moriyama became the most prominent artist to emerge from the short-lived yet profoundly influential Provoke movement, which played an important role in liberating photography from tradition and interrogating the very nature of the medium.

“His bold, uncompromising style has helped engender widespread recognition of Japanese photography within an international context. Influenced by photographer William Klein, the writings of Jack Kerouac and James Baldwin, and the experimental theatre of Shūji Terayama, Moriyama in turn has inspired subsequent generations of photographers, not only in Japan, but also around the world.”

The Hasselblad Foundation was set up in 1979, and has been awarding photographers this prize since 1980, with previous winners including William Klein, Susan Meiselas, Boris Mikhailov, and Graciela Iturbide. This year the jury was made up of: Paul Roth (chair), curator and director, Ryerson Image Centre, Toronto; Ann-Christin Bertrand, curator, C/O Berlin Foundation, Berlin; Susanna Brown, curator, photographs, Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Kristen Lubben, executive director, Magnum Foundation, New York; and Thyago Noguiera, curator, Instituto Moreira Salles, São Paulo.


Diane Smyth

Diane Smyth is the editor of BJP, returning for a second stint on staff in 2023 - after 15 years on the team until 2019. As a freelancer, she has written for The Guardian, FT Weekend Magazine, Creative Review, Aperture, FOAM, Aesthetica and Apollo. She has also curated exhibitions for institutions such as The Photographers Gallery and Lianzhou Foto Festival. You can follow her on instagram @dismy