Nobuyoshi Araki: Japan’s Most Controversial Photograher

Nobuyoshi Araki is a Japanese photographer and contemporary artist. Born in Tokoyo in 1940, he has produced thousands of photographs and over 500 photobooks throughout the course of his career. He studied photography from 1959 – 1963 and has been active in publishing, photography and filming since his first solo exhibition in Japan in 1965.

Photo-Mad Old Man 76th Birthday by Nobuyoshi Araki

He became famous for Un Voyage Sentimental, 1971, a series of photos depicting both banal and deeply intimate scenes of his wife during their honeymoon. However, Araki is mostly known for his erotic photographs, some of which have been called pornographic. Araki’s popularity grew in the 90s, especially in the west, as art critics began to study and theorize his imagery. Since this time, his works have brought a dividing reaction from viewers and critics alike, gaining equal amounts of praise and criticism over treading the line between photography and pornography.

Untitled by Nobuyoshi Araki

Rather than shooting something that looks like a professional photograph, I want my work to feel intimate, like someone in the subject’s inner circle shot them
 –  Nobuyoshi Araki

Now 77, Araki had unapologetically defied Japan’s social and tradition norms with his intimate and graphic depictions of sexuality. Photographing subjects as diverse as flowers, Kinbaku (the Japanese art of rope-tying), and Tokyo street scenes, Nobuyoshi Araki continues push the boundaries between conceptual genius and misogyny.

Yakuza by Nobuyoshi Araki
Photography is about a single point of a moment. It’s like stopping time. As everything gets condensed in that forced instant. But if you keep creating these points, they form a line which reflects your life. – Nobuyoshi Araki

Untitled “Les Miserables (Mujo) by Nobuyoshi Araki

Currently, Araki is exhibiting in New York with the Museum of Sex’s retrospective devoted to him, The Incomplete Araki: Sex, Life, and Death in the Work of Nobuyoshi Araki.

KaoRi Through the Looking Glass by Nobuyoshi Araki

It’s these photos that really push up against the boundaries of acceptability within Japanese legal and social society, as well as our own in society in the West. Araki documented this oppositional side of Tokyo as a reality,” Mustard explained. “It wasn’t just about the ‘obscenity’ of his work, but it was more about him showing this part of Tokyo that people would prefer not to be shared. – Museum curator, Maggie Mustard

Kinbaku by Nobuyoshi Araki

Guy Hepner is pleased to offer a selection of Nobuyoshi Araki photographs for sale. Inquiry today via phone or email to received the most recent availability from his collection.