Ogawa Kazumasa (1860–1929), attivo durante il periodo Meiji (1868–1912), studia fotografia anche negli Stati Uniti e poi al ritorno, in Giappone, apre un’attività come fotografo e stampatore.
La sua è una fotografia di bellezza e di grazia, con i collotipi colorati a mano che ancora oggi (presenti nelle collezioni di tutto il mondo) affascinano per la resa e l’impatto emotivo.
Il suo lavoro più conosciuto da noi è “Some Japanese Flowers“, nei quali ritrae alcuni fiori giapponesi con una maestria unica.
Una fotografia senza tempo.
La sua biografia:
A master of photography, Kazumasa Ogawa is best known for his artistic photographs and collotype publishing which numbered over 400 titles. Born in Saitama Prefecture in 1860, his father was a samurai and a retainer of the Matsudaira clan. By the age of fifteen Ogawa was studying English and photography and briefly apprenticed under the photographer Hideo Yoshiwara in his hometown of Kumagaya in Saitama Prefecture. By 1877 at the age of seventeen, Ogawa opened his first studio in Tomioka, Gumma Prefecture.
Seemingly unsatisfied with his progress, Ogawa honed his English skills as a means to study photography overseas. In July 1882 he was hired aboard the American frigate Swatara and arrived Boston in 1882. During his nearly two year stay in America, Ogawa studied studio portraiture, carbon printing, the dry plate process and collotype printing in Boston, Washington and Philadelphia. In 1884 he returned to Japan and the following year opened his first photo studio, the Gyokujun-kan. In 1888 Ogawa established the Tsukiji Kampan Seizo Kaisha (Tsukiji Dry Plate Manufacturing Company) which manufactured dry plates for use by photographers. In 1889 he launched Japan’s first collotype business, the Ogawa Shashin Seihan-Jo. These early businesses were partly funded by Viscount Nagamoto Okabe and Seibei Kajima, a wealthy amateur photographer. In 1889 Ogawa also helped to launch Kokka, an important arts journal that is still published to this day. The first six volumes from 1889 to 1902 featured Ogawa’s photographs of traditional Japanese relics in collotype format.
By 1890 Ogawa was on a successful career path. In 1891 he was commissioned to do a series of portraits on one hundred famous geisha of Tokyo to celebrate the opening of Tokyo’s first skyscraper, the Ryounkaku. These photographs gained him notoriety for their artistry. Throughout the rest of the Meiji period Ogawa produced many lovely collotype titles too numerous to mention. These were illustrated with photographs by himself and other photographers like Kajima Seibei, William Kinnimond Burton, John Milne, Tamamura Kozaburo, and Herbert Ponting. One entitled “Some Japanese Flowers” published in 1896 is beautifully illustrated with hand colored collotype plates by Ogawa. Other projects he photographed include the 1893 world’s fair in Chicago and the Imperial Palace in Beijing.
Ogawa played an active role in his printing company and photo studios well into the Taisho period. During his long career he perfected the collotype process, bringing it to a whole new level as an artform with the use of multi-strike printings, as well as the addition of hand coloring. As a result, Japanese collotypes have endured a legacy as the finest in the world even to this day. In the past there has been some debate as to the correct spelling of his name. He sometimes went by Isshin Ogawa, but the correct spelling is Kazumasa Ogawa. He also became a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in England.