A perverse kind of beauty

Photograph by Daidō Moriyama from ‘Tokyo Color’; included in <i>Daido Tokyo</i>Whether he is in Shinjuku, downtown Los Angeles, Honolulu, or Antwerp, Moriyama’s eye is drawn to the same things: the sinuous tubes, the women’s legs, the glossy lips, the shiny motorbikes, the rain-soaked streets, the advertising. But he finds new and interesting ways to photograph them. Two recent books, Daidō Moriyama: Record and Daido Tokyo, show some of his best contemporary work. It looks a little more polished. But the artificial garishness that marked his earlier black-and-white pictures is just as effectively rendered, if not more so, in color. Moriyama doesn’t need Tokyo to give us his vision of modern urban life, of the marks human beings have made on the world. These are often lurid, ugly, aggressive, and destructive. But they can also contain a perverse kind of beauty. It takes a great artist like Moriyama to make us see it.

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