Masayoshi Sukita AT Morrison Hotel Gallery

Image above: © Masayoshi Sukita / courtesy of Morrison Hotel Gallery

Masayoshi Sukita was born in a small coal-mining town in the north region of Kyushu, Japan, in 1938. His father was killed on the front line in China during World War II. Though he died when he was just seven, Sukita has vivid memories of his father taking photographs.

_MG_1704image above: portrait of the artist © Monika Piatkiewicz

When he was a child, Sukita’s uncle would take him on trips to the cinema, something that would influence him throughout his life. In his teens, Sukita would cycle 100km to see imported American films. Sukita was most inspired by films starring Marlon Brando and James Dean, and those in which he encountered rock ’n’ roll. He credits film and music for teaching him expression in his photography.

07-P1973rca-010Image above: © Masayoshi Sukita / courtesy of Morrison Hotel Gallery

After graduating high school, and a further two years at photography school, Sukita assisted an established photographer and entered the photographic division of an advertising agency in Osaka. Then in 1965 he moved to Tokyo, taking fashion photographs and filming TV commercials. He became a freelance photographer in 1970, the same year he married his wife Hiroko. Between 1970 and 1971 he visited New York frequently, drawn by its subculture, especially the mix of art, film and music that surrounded Andy Warhol. In New York he took photos of Jimi Hendrix in the months before his death. The music and culture of London also attracted Sukita in the early Seventies, where he would meet and photograph T-Rex’s Marc Bolan.

03-1972-2.2-08Image above: © Masayoshi Sukita / courtesy of Morrison Hotel Gallery

In 1972, Sukita met David Bowie in London for the first time. Before having even heard his music, Sukita saw a striking poster of David Bowie promoting a concert and felt he had to go, purely on the strength of the poster. Sukita admired Bowie’s innovative performance style and related to his cinematic influences, and secured a meeting to present his portfolio to Bowie's former manager. This was no mean feat, considering his English was very limited. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive, and a portrait session with Bowie was arranged. This photo-shoot, in the summer of 1972, began a 40-plus-year collaboration between the two artists. Sukita was there to welcome Bowie upon his arrival to Japan in 1973, and accompanied him on numerous subsequent visits. Over the years, between press conferences and photo shoots, Sukita and Bowie explored the cities, relaxed with friends, and attended Iggy Pop’s birthday party. The two continue to work together.

02-P1972-N-01Image above: © Masayoshi Sukita / courtesy of Morrison Hotel Gallery

In 1977, Sukita took the iconic cover shoot for Bowie’s “Heroes” album. This is perhaps Sukita’s most famous photograph of David Bowie. The “Heroes” sleeve art is now attracting renewed interest, because the cover for David Bowie’s new studio album, The Next Day, takes the “Heroes” cover as its base. Sukita also famously photographed punks in London and many musicians including David Sylvian, the Yellow Magic Orchestra and T-Rex, as well continuing to work in advertising and fashion photography.

_MG_1773images above: opening images © Monika Piatkiewicz
This exhibition will be open from November 13-30th at
Morrison Hotel Gallery 116 Prince Street || New York, NY 10012 212.941.8770

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