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Photo of the Week #154

Taizo Kato

Taizo Kato Four Flowers, pre 1924 Vintage gelatin silver print 9 7/8 x 7 7/8"

Four Flowers, pre 1924
Vintage gelatin silver print
9 7/8 x 7 7/8"


August 16, 2021

PHOTOGRAPH OF THE WEEK is currently celebrating four Japanese Americans who pioneered the photographic art form in the early 20th century—this week we feature the important early work of Taizo Kato. 

Taizo Kato (1887-1924) was born in Japan and immigrated to the US in 1906 at the age of 19. He owned and operated The Korin, a business enterprise that encompassed a camera store, a film processing lab, and a gallery where photography was presented alongside ceramics and paintings. Kato's own creative output encompassed photography, painting, and writing. 

The soft focus, warm tonality, and choice of subject matter all make this photograph a classic example of Pictorialism, the movement which dominated fine art photography in the early 20th century. Photographers associated with the movement emphasized photography’s expressive potential over its documentary function, often by consciously adopting the look of painting. 

Pictorialism was embraced as the namesake and organizing concept of the Japanese Camera Pictorialists of California, a group of photographers formed in Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo neighborhood in 1926. While Kato's early death in 1924 preceded the formation of the group, his photographs, along with his efforts in the community to contextualize photography with other art forms, undoubtedly laid the groundwork for the organization.
Please let us know if you would like to see additional works by Tazio Kato.