World famous Japanese photographer, notably known for his cult book The Solitude of Ravens (1986), Masahisa Fukase turns in 1977 his lens towards his new companion: his cat Sasuke. Surrounded by felines since his childhood, Fukase decides with the arrival of this new kitten to make him a photographic subject in his own right. He takes it everywhere with him and, in a long-term almost experimental form, explores a new practice: “That year I took a lot of pictures crawling on my stomach to be at eye level of a cat and, in a way, that made me a cat.
It was a job full of joy, taking these photos playing with what I liked, in accordance with the changes of nature.” Taking advantage of this model full of life, Fukase created as usual an extraordinary photograph in its technical and visual inventiveness. A year later, he welcomes a second cat, nicknamed Momoe, who will also enter the frame: “I didn’t want to photograph the most beautiful cats in the world but rather capture their charm in my lens, while reflecting me in their pupils. You could rightly say that this collection is actually a «self-portrait» for which I took the form of Sasuke and Momoe.” The book is devided in 4 chapters, organizing the chronology of Fukase’s life with his cats and, as often in his work, showing a form of projection of the photographer into his subject.The cat, a faithful companion who never leaves him, takes the place of his wife, eternal heartache, also represented by the iconic fleeing crows. This book closes the series of publications devoted to his cats and started in 2015 with Wonderful days (Roshin books, Japan).
Born in 1934 on the island of Hokkaido, in the north of Japan, into a family of studio photographers, Masahisa Fukase was meant to take over the business, but after studying photography, he launched a career as a freelance reporter in the late 1960s. He initially worked for magazines and in the advertising field, but later began more personal work. It was in 1971 that he published his first photography album, dedicated to his family, through group portraits. In 1974, he cofounded the Workshop Photography School with Shomei Tomatsu, Eikoh Hosoe, Noriaki Yokosuka, Nobuyoshi Araki, and Daido Moriyama and that same year, the MoMA in New York dedicated a milestone exhibition to them: New Japanese Photography. But it was the 1986 book The Solitude of Ravens that was to reveal Fukase, featuring his wild and incredible images of ravens, work undertaken after his divorce from Yoko, his second wife. “I become a raven” the author even wrote of this series that was to become a landmark in the history of photography. Victim in 1992 of a fall in the stairway of his favourite bar, Masahisa Fukase went into a coma at the age of 58 and was maintained on life support until his death in 2012..