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Arts of Asia

The MFAH collections of art from China, India, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia reflect Houston’s diverse communities. Ancient and contemporary works are displayed together to create innovative juxtapositions.


© Kochi Prefecture, Ishimoto Yasuhiro Photo Center
Japanese, born 1921
from the series "Tokyo"
Gelatin silver print

Image: 7 15/16 x 11 1/16 inches
Sheet: 10 15/16 x 14 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of the artist in memory of Ishimoto Shigeru

Arts of Asia

Named a Man of Cultural Distinction by the Japanese government in 1996, Ishimoto Yasuhiro began his journey as a photographer picturing his fellow Japanese Americans at an internment camp in Colorado during World War II. After the war he moved to Chicago, where he studied with legendary photographers Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind at the Institute of Design. From them, Ishimoto learned to find the extraordinary in the everyday, the abstract in nature and architecture.

Ishimoto developed his own masterful ways of seeing. First in Chicago and later in Tokyo, he photographed people and objects he found on the street. Fascinated with the coexistence of tradition and modernity in aspects of daily life, Ishimoto frames ordinary objects in a breathtakingly clear and sophisticated style, capturing the essence of the city in complex, often abstract compositions that reveal the unfamiliar in the familiar.
In 2009, Ishimoto gave the MFAH nearly 300 of his photographs, among the largest gifts from a single artist in the museum's history. As critic Yamagishi Shoji said, "many of the essentials of modern [Japanese] photography were learned from Ishimoto . . . and without him, we could never have achieved today's photography."

To view specific works by Ishimoto in the collection, contact the museum's Works on Paper Study Center for an appointment.