Masao Yamamoto’s photography captures evocative, dreamlike images and has a detached quality that suggests the abstract nature of distant memories and daydreams. His subjects vary wildly, ranging from Japanese landscapes and its flora and fauna to still lives, nude female bodies, and compositions that represent the rupture between past, present, and future. Many critics have described his art as visual haiku because of his interest in the beauty of overlooked things, his mastery of brevity, and his focus on everyday details. He presents his photographs as small-scale silver gelatin prints and uses analogue methods to manipulate and individualize them. He can dye, tone with tea, paint, fold, and tear them, giving them an artificially aged appearance and reinforcing their tactile object-status that reflects the intimate experience of viewing these diminutive works and mirrors the private nature of many of the moments the artist photographs.
Yamamoto studied oil painting with the Japanese painter Goro Saito before turning fulltime to photography in 1993. His work is shown internationally in institutions such as High Museum of Art (Atlanta); George Eastman House (Rochester); Carrousel du Louvre (Paris); Pinakothek der Moderne (Munich); and Museum of Photographic Arts (San Diego). His photographs are held in the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum (London); Philadelphia Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the International Center of Photography (New York); Harvard University Art Museum (Cambridge); Maison Europeenne de la Photographie (Paris); Forum fur Fotografie (Cologne); and Nelson Atkins Museum (Kansas City) among others.