Yousuf KARSH, Yasunari Kawabata Enlarge 1 /1

Yousuf KARSH

Armenia 1908 – United States of America 2002

  • 1925 Canada

Yasunari Kawabata 1969 Creation Notes: prtd 1974
Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph

Dimensions: printed image 99.0 h x 73.6 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1973
Accession No: NGA 74.396.11

‘I photographed the “Living Human Treasure” with a piece from his extensive collection of Haniwa, early Japanese funerary pottery. After reading some of his works, I understood the subtle power of his simple literary images. In his seaside home, this gentle author’s every movement, his every utterance was like the subtle, precise beauty of his beloved Japan. I felt his compassion and understood how his deceptively simple literary images linked together produce sudden, profound insight into his characters’ souls.’ (Karsh)

An experimental writer early in his career, Kawabata returned to traditional Japanese forms of the novel in his later works. After the defeat of Japan in World War II, Kawabata said that he would write nothing but elegies for the remaining years of his life, and much of his writing is suffused with melancholy and reflects the ambivalent position of the traditional artist in post-war Japan. Kawabata was also a renowned literary critic and discovered and sponsored such remarkable writers as Yukio Mishima. Kawabata suffered from ill health for much of the latter part of his life and he took his own life in 1972.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra