Nobuyoshi Araki, writer of over 350 books is an arguably most prolific and greatest living photographer of Japan. A photographer and contemporary artist, he was born on 25th May 1940 in Tokyo.
From 1959-1963, he studied photography and filmmaking at Chiba university, Tokyo. His influences were Italian Neo-Realist and French NouvelleVague-Films; his favourite directors, Cari Theodor Dreyer and Robert Bresson. In 1963, he graduated from the Department of Engineering at Chiba University; majored in Photography and Film Making. After college he went on to work at Dentsu Advertising. Along with company’s official work, he used the equipments for his own work as well. He won The Sun Magazine’s photo contest for Satchin in 1964.
In 1965, Nobuyoshi Araki had his first one-man show at Shinjuku Station Building. He published two books, Gemi and Gemi the Whore. Both these works were thought to be lost but were recovered and published as Jeanne in 1997.
He compiled his all artworks in 25 volumes, printing 70 copies each in 1970 and distributing them to his friends, art critics and random people. He calls this year The First Year of Araki. In same year April, he held an exhibition called Sur-sentimentalist No. 2: The Truth about Carmen Marie. The artworks were enlargement of the singer’s genitals. Likewise, similar show was held at a noodle shop, which was exhibited until 1976.
In 1971, he married Yoko Araki and released a book that consists of photos taken while the couple went to honeymoon. This book was published as Sentimental Journey. In 1974, he helped found the Workshop School of Photography in collaboration with Shōmei Tōmatsu and Daido Moriyama. He opened Araki Private Photo School with about ten students in 1976.
Nobuyoshi Araki started working for the magazine New Self. In 1977, he started publishing two series in Weekend Super magazine, Actresses and Pseudo-Reportage. He later created further series’ like A Sentimental Journey in Pursuit of Women; a photo novel, A Senti-Roman, stills about the stunning views of Tokyo, Girlfriends and more.
From 1980, he worked as a still photographer for films and recitals. Later he produced his first film, High School Girl Fake Diary in 1981. He began shooting stills for Japan edition of PlayBoy and Camera Mainichi though he was asked to discontinue this work in 1981.
Araki published Nostalgic Nights as a wedding anniversary gift to Yoko in 1984. These stills were inspired by Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Nostalghia. These images were published as Love Life in 1985.
He held a slide show at Cinema Rise in 1986, it was about Araki’s neighborhood, his studio, hotels and nude women. In 1987, he created Hokeited Nichijo in collaboration with Yoko. Araki’s wife Yoko aged 42, passed away on 27th January 1990. That year, he was awarded with Annual Award of the Photographic Society of Japan. Later on, A Pep Rally for Araki was held. He also participated in NHK-TV’s program The Future of Photography.
In 1991, Araki published Winter Journey, in memory of his wife. The photos were taken during Yoko’s hospitalization and funeral. Araki received the Domestic Photographer’s Award at the 7th Hishikawa International Photo Festival. He was requested to photograph cover for Icelandic musician Björk’s 1997 remix album. He has also photographed Lady Gaga. In 2005, Travis Klose produced a documentary film, Arakimentari, on life and work of Nobuyoshi Araki. His work has been exhibited at Tate and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art(SFMOMA).
He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008 and has undergone a surgery successfully. In the same year, he was awarded with Austrian Decoration for Science and Art.