Consistently proclaimed as one of the most important photobooks in the history of the medium, Ravens by Japanese photographer Masahisa Fukase was first published in 1986 and the two subsequent editions were both short print runs that sold out immediately. This bilingual facsimile of the first edition contains a new text by founder of the Masahisa Fukase Archives, Tomo Kosuga. His essay locates Ravens in Fukase’s wider work and life, and is illustrated with numerous recently discovered photographs and drawings.
Fukase’s haunting series of work was made between 1975 and 1986 in the aftermath of a divorce and was apparently triggered by a mournful train journey to his hometown. The coastal landscapes of Hokkaido serve as the backdrop for his profoundly dark and impressionistic photographs of ominous flocks of crows. The work has been interpreted as an ominous allegory for postwar Japan.
Masahisa Fukase (b. 1934, Hokkaido; d. 2012) graduated from the Nihon University College of Art’s Photography Department in 1956. He became a freelance photographer in 1968 after working at the Nippon Design Center and Kawade Shobo Publishers. His major books include Yugi [Homo Ludence] (Chuokoron-sha, 1971); Yohko(Asahi Sonorama, 1978), and Karasu [Ravens] (Sokyu-sha, 1986). Countless solo exhibitions have been dedicated to Fukase’s work, and his photographs have been included in group exhibitions at the MoMA, NY; Oxford Museum of Art; Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, Paris; V&A, London. Fukase also won numerous prizes, including the 2nd Ina Nobuo Award in 1976 for his exhibition “Karasu” and the Special Award at the 8th Higashikawa Photography Awards in 1992. Fukase tragically fell down a set of stairs in 1992 and suffered a traumatic brain injury from which he never recovered. He passed away in 2012.