In a recent blog post, Abakus Place featured a few photos by photographer Yasuhiro Ishimoto, which were taken while the artist lived in Chicago from 1959 to 1961.
The San Francisco-born artist grew up in Japan and returned to America just before World War II. He was sent to an internment camp for two years during the war, which prevented his studies at the time. He later moved to Chicago to study architecture at Northwestern.
In 1953, he returned to Japan, but spent a few years in Chicago, thanks to a Minolta fellowship. His first solo exhibition was at the Art Institute in 1960. Today, the Art Institute has over 300 prints of his works, with four currently on display.
Although the artist passed away a few years ago, his story is incredible and his body of work is often revered by his colleagues.
The black and white photos often portray a grittier side to the city, but the photographer found ways to find beauty in the unexpected. Ishimoto briefly studied architecture and this education informed his art, as in pictures of buildings in decay or a skyline obscured by fog.
Ishimoto also took many portraits, ranging from children playing on Halloween, to civil rights protests.
They call it "9 to 5". It's never 9 to 5… you know my old saying: slavery was never abolished, it was only extended… And what hurts is the steadily diminishing humanity of those fighting to hold jobs they don't want but fear the alternative worse. People simply empty out… As a young man, I could not believe that people could give their lives over to those conditions. As an old man, I still can't believe it. — #CharlesBukowski photo: the iconic #YasuhiroIshimoto Have a good work week 😛
Some photos were candid and are still full of mystery.
Others leave you wondering if they are whimsical or ominous evidence of something more gruesome and violent.
While we are now in the digital age, where photography is often taken for granted, Ishimoto’s photos focus on the unexpected beauty of everyday life in Chicago.
Everyone can be a photographer, but Ishimoto was truly an artist.