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Katsuji Fukuda

Katsuji Fukuda (福田 勝治, Fukuda Katsuji, 1899–1991) was a Japanese photographer known for his photographs of still lifes and nudes, and also a writer of practical books about photography.Fukuda was born on 11 January 1899 in Nakanoseki (later part of Hōfu), Yamaguchi (Japan). He moved to Tokyo in 1920, and worked at Takachiho Seisakujo (later renamed Olympus), where he worked making thermometers and developed an interest in photography, buying a Vest Pocket Kodak. The 1923 Kantō earthquake impelled him to leave the company and move to Kansai.Fukuda ran a photographic studio in Sakai and Osaka, but this failed. He then worked as an editorial assistant on Hakuyō Fuchikami's periodical Hakuyō. A photograph he took in 1925, shown in an exhibition (titled 日本写真美術展覧会, Nihon Shashin Bijutsutenrankai) at Daimaru department store (Osaka) and elsewhere, won the Ilford Diamond Prize the following year. Fukuda then worked as a commercial photographer in Sakai and Hiroshima.Fukuda moved back to Tokyo in 1933, where, influenced by Modernist trends from Europe (particularly Moholy-Nagy), he pursued a successful career as an advertising photographer. (Other than for a year at Hōfu toward the end of the war, Fukuda stayed in Tokyo for the rest of his life.) A series of photographs in Asahi Camera starting in 1936 and including portraits of Setsuko Hara and Takako Irie was very popular, and the next year Fukuda turned this into a book on photographing women that became a best-seller.After the war, Fukuda published collections of nude studies and more books on photographic technique. He also experimented with color. The value he placed on the expression of beauty rendered his work old fashioned with the postwar wave of realism led by photographers such as Ken Domon, and the trends that followed this. In 1974 he was not even among one hundred living photographers profiled in a Camera Mainichi supplement. However, he contributed one volume (Shōka / Psalm) to the popular series "Sonorama Shashin Sensho" in 1979; in an afterword to this, Akira Hasegawa writes:There are no photographers of women in Japan even today who have not been influenced by Fukuda in one way or another. Many techniques commonly used today were developed by Fukuda, a fact which has been forgotten.Fukuda continued working in his old age. He died on 26 December 1991. The estimation of his work has since increased, and it is often anthologized in collections of Modernist and mid-century works. A major exhibition of his work was held in the Yamaguchi Prefectural Museum of Art in 1994.Works by Fukuda are in the permanent collections of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Yokohama Museum of Art, and Yamaguchi Prefectural Museum of Art.

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