Nobuyoshi Araki - Photographs Evening Sale New York Wednesday, April 1, 2015 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo
    Yoshii Gallery, New York
    Private Collection, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    “Pictures taken by a digital camera only show the instant moment. A digital camera copies the presence of reality. What you see is what you get. However, there may be something added to the frame during the process of developing or printing when it comes to film. There could be sentimental feelings in those photographs. This kind of ‘mysterious secret’ goes into the process of using a film camera. It is humane, so it is appropriate for photographic expression.”— Nobuyoshi Araki

    As one of the most prolific Contemporary artists to emerge from Japan, Nobuyoshi Araki has utilized photography as a deeply personal vessel to document the events, people and sights that move him. “My photos are my life,” Araki has stated. “What makes [each photo] special is that it’s a precious moment caught between the past and the future. I sense both of them and want to capture it.” Joking that he was born holding a camera, the artist’s daily documentation of his life dates back to 1971, the year he married his late wife, Yoko. The coinciding of Araki’s marriage and his foray into photography is not incidental for the intimate nature of each dynamic. Recalling his early days as a photographer, Araki stated that at the time being a photographer meant relinquishing one’s selfhood in favor of complete objectivity. For Araki, however, photographing subjective experiences was “where the essential lies and where the dramatic intensity is strongest. Taking pictures is a sentimental thing for me.” Since then the artist has photographed the streets of his beloved Tokyo, the flowers he feels compelled to keep in close proximity, and perhaps most famously, the many beautiful women who have crossed his path.

    The current lot depicts 1,050 film positives that collectively provide a sweeping overview of the moments that Araki chose to commemorate and eternalize over thirty years. The tight gathering of the positives is effective in encouraging viewers to get close to the work in order to differentiate the myriad of images set within. Subsequently, each image can be experienced on its own as well as within a larger, historical context. “When I spread out all my work it takes on a cosmic dimension,” Araki has explained, “almost like a Buddhist mandala. That’s how I see it at least. The more photos, the better.” Taken together, a multitude of narratives unfold, all of which provide a rich understanding of the passions, thoughts, experiences and feelings that are specific to Araki. “My own memory wipes out when I take the photo. In a sense, my camera becomes my memory,” Araki has confessed.

    The freestanding format of the work imbues it with a monumental strength that lets A/FILM 6 x 7 act as both photograph and sculpture. The work is tall and commanding, but also inviting and approachable, especially with the soft radiant light emitted from inside. Moreover, the positives themselves emphasize the artist’s love for the medium, not just the images. For Araki, the act of photography in itself is an extension of the personal and physical experience he shares with his subjects. “[A] kind of ‘mysterious secret’ goes into the process of using a film camera,” Araki has stated. “It is humane, so it is appropriate for photographic expression. I do not feel the body temperature of the subject in digital image. There is no physicality.” Accordingly, A/FILM 6 x 7 presents a beautifully candid and gorgeous mosaic of moments big and small, staged and discovered, experienced and observed, all unified by the artist’s love for photography and the kaleidoscopic variety of subjects captured for posterity.


A/FILM 6 X 7

Unique grid of 1,050 6 x 7 cm color film positives mounted to glass within the artist's double-sided frame; visible on each side.
Overall 81 3/4 x 107 1/2 in. (207.6 x 273.1 cm)
Accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity and an extra set of 1,050 original film positives.

$120,000 - 180,000 

Contact Specialist
Vanessa Kramer Hallett
Worldwide Head, Photographs

Shlomi Rabi
Head of Sale, New York

General Enquiries:
+1 212 940 1245

Photographs Evening Sale

New York 1 April 2015 6pm