Japanese photographer Masahisa Fukase made his obscure masterpiece ‘Ravens’ (‘Karasu’) between 1975 and 1982 as a way of overcoming a personal emotional trauma following a divorce with his second wife Yōko Wanibe. Though the photographs at first sight are a personal lament reflecting the darkened vision of the photographer himself, they are regarded by many as the most important body of work to come out of postwar Japan, and still its imagery continues to inspire artists and writers today.
The project originated as an eight-part series for the magazine Camera Mainichi and these photo essays reveal that Fukase experimented with multiple exposure printing and narrative text as part of the development of the Karasu concept. The first book was published in 1986, subsequent editions were published in 1991 and and 2008, and in May, 2017 a new one published by Mack Books.
“Ravens is one of the defining bodies of work in the history of photography and a high point in the photo book genre. This accumulation of accolades, and the passing of time, have obscured much of the fascinating detail which explains the artist’s pre-occupation with this motif throughout his work. It was not simply a reflection of the existential angst and anhedonia he suffered throughout his life but manifested in artistic self-identification with the raven and ultimately spiralled into a solitary existence and artistic practice on the edge of madness…” Tomo Kosuga from his essay Cries of Solitude