The summer of 2021 sees the Albertina Modern examine the work of the acclaimed, but often controversial, contemporary Japanese photographer, Nobuyoshi Araki.
- Focus on his early career, including the Sentimental Journey series
- Runs May 26 – Aug 29, 2021
- See also: Albertina Modern – tickets & visitor info – selected past exhibitions
A sentimental journey?
(Nobuyoshi Araki; Sentimental Journey, 1971; Gelatin silver print; © Nobuyoshi Araki)
Araki’s fame stems largely from his nudes, whose categorisation as art, erotica or pornography may depend on the observer. But to focus on these photos alone would do him a disservice, crucial though they may be to his prodigious and prestigious career.
The Albertina Modern’s exhibition examines Araki’s earlier years in photography, beginning with his 1963 portrayal of two working class brothers. In a typically iconoclastic 2010 interview, he described his initial attraction to the medium so:
I like to explore the banality of life, people’s ordinary activities.
Which is not to say Araki’s success and reach have not led him into more celebrated spheres. He shot the cover for Björk’s 1996 Telegram album, for example, and took a series of bondage-themed photos of Lady Gaga in 2009 for the Japanese Vogue Hommes magazine.
The seminal decades-long series Sentimental Journey forms the core of the exhibition. Araki began the series in 1971 by documenting his honeymoon with wife Yoko, often including intimate scenes. In a 2020 interview, he described the first (private) publication to emerge from that series as perhaps the one he likes most of all his hundreds of books.
On my visit, the initial displays felt like Araki is almost playing with us Loki-like as we enter worlds already unfamiliar to many Europeans. But the gallery dedicated to Sentimental Journey is a hard-hitting experience, particularly the Winter Journey part of the series that documents Yoko’s illness and passing.
The actual photos stem from the contemporary art collection put together by Rafael Jablonka over many years, thus effectively documenting Araki’s artistic evolution. Now under the aegis of the Albertina, the Jablonka collection looks set to provide plenty of material for future themed exhibitions.
Dates and tickets
Enjoy Araki’s photos from May 26th, 2021 to August 29th, 2021. A normal entrance ticket for the Albertina Modern gets you inside. Or consider a combination ticket* which includes entrance to the main Albertina museum in the centre of town.
How to get to the exhibition
The Albertina Modern is a new outpost of the Albertina close to Karlsplatz subway station on the U1, U2 and U4 lines. Follow the travel tips in the main museum article.
Look across the road in front of the museum to find a construction site that will eventually become the new version of the Wien Museum. In recent times, the fencing has played host to outdoor photo exhibitions, so you might take a peek to see what’s happening.
Another photo exhibition taking place more or less concurrently is a full retrospective of Elfie Semotan’s artistic oeuvre over at the Kunst Haus Wien.
Address: Karlsplatz 5, 1010 Vienna