Size: 8.5 x 8.5 in. (216 x 216 mm).
Item#: SD-089 Artist: Akira Ibuka.
Image or title: Denishawn Dance Company in Tokyo.
Date: 1925-1926 Medium: vintage matte gelatin silver print. Price: please inquire

Denishawn Dance Company performing in Tokyo:

This Ibuka photograph shows the American dance troupe Denishawn Dance Company taken in Tokyo during the troupe's tour of the Far East in 1925 and 1926. The director and lead dancer was Ruth St. Denis (1879-1968) who is credited with founding modern dance in America. She and husband Ted Shawn formed this dance troupe and school in 1915, which stressed individuality and experimentation. Several prominent dancers as Martha Graham and Louise Brooks got their start through Denishawn which disbanded in 1931. Denishawn's Far East tour was important in that St. Denis had always incorporated Asian themes into her dance rituals. In touring the Far East, she not only performed to the cultures she borrowed from, but was also on a pilgrimage of sorts. This tour was the subject of a 1976 book by former Denishawn dancer Jane Sherman entitled “Soaring: The Diary and Letters of a Denishawn Dancer in the Far East, 1925-1926” (Wesleyan Univ. Press). When Denishawn visited Japan, Ibuka photographed their performances at the Teikoku Gekijo (Imperial Theater) in Tokyo. An inscription of the reverse of this print reads: “Denishiyon Butoudan” . Translation: “Denishawn Dance Company”.

Condition: very good (for specifics, please contact us).

Akira Ibuka (1903 -1978):

Ibuka was born in Muroran, Hokkaido in 1903. In his late teens he studied precision machinery at the Tokyo-Furitsu Kogei Gakko (Tokyo Prefectural Industrial School), where he graduated in 1922. It is not known how long he studied there, but during this same period he worked as a staff photographer for Mitsukoshi Department Store’s photography department (shashin-bu). In 1921 he entered a photo concours in Tokyo organized by Shashin Geijutsu-sha, a photographic art society that was the precursor to the Nihon Shashin-kai (Japan Photographic Society or JSP). It was during this photo competition that his talent caught the eye of Shinzo Fukuhara, the principal member and patron of this group.

Upon graduation from trade school, Ibuka was hired by the photographic supply company Konishiroku Honten (forerunner of Konica Corp. ), where he worked in the machinery department as a camera technician. But his employment at Konishiroku only lasted a year and in 1923 was recruited by Shiseido’s photo equipment department (shashinki-bu) to work again as a camera technician. Soon after entering Shisiedo, Ibuka became a personal aide and protégé of Shinzo Fukuhara and accompanied him on numerous photo excursions around Japan. He quickly moved up the ranks to become the director of Shiseido’s Design Department, where he remained for over two decades.

Ibuka brought with him new styles of photography and concepts that were influential to Shiseido’s design team. During the 1930s he continued to employ cutting edge design principles which was evident in Shiseido publications. He left Shiseido it 1946, but continued his career as a commercial photographer. In 1949, the year following Shinzo’s death, Ibuka founded his own firm, the Ibuka Shogyo Shashin Kenkyu-jo (Ibuka Commercial Photographic Laboratory). From the mid 1950s he published the photography books; “Shogyo Shashin Jitsu” (Commercial Photographic Technique), and “Shiki no Shashin Jitsu” (Four Seasons Photographic Technique). In addition to the many Shiseido promotional campaigns he was published in, his work appeared regularly in Japanese photography journals from the 1920s to the 1950s. He was also a ranking member of the Nihon Shashin-kai.

In 1966 Ibuka was appointed dean of the Nihon Shashin Semon Gakkuin, a photography college that exists to this day (now Tokyo Kogei Daigaku or Tokyo Institute of Polytechnics). Ibuka was also recognized for his close relationship to the Fukuhara brothers and was called upon at times to advise on posthumous publications and exhibitions. He also printed from the Fukuhara negatives for these projects, an honor only bestowed upon one other photographer, Tadashi Murabayashi. His last salute to his mentor was a personal account on the Fukuhara brothers published in the 1977 edition of “Hikari to Sono Kaicho” (Light and it’s Harmony). Ibuka died in 1978 at age 76.

Denishawn promo (reference only, not available).