Imai Hisae

IMAI Hisae was born in 1931, the eldest daughter of a family running Imai Photo Studio in Higashi-Nakano, Tokyo. Her father, Yasumichi, was head of the photography department at Ginza Matsuya, and she graduated from Bunka Gakuin in 1952. In 1956, she had the first solo exhibition, Daydreams, at the Matsushima Gallery in Ginza. She employed the mechanism of photography to delicately create a free and open world that was both imaginative and literary. In an era of realist photography, she was criticized at the time for her avant-garde style, but she quickly became a popular photographer. She continued to receive high praise for poetic photographic works such as A Donkey, the King, and Myself (1959 Newcomer's Award, Japan Photographic Critics Society) and After Ophelia (1960 Japan Photo Critics Association newcomer award), and was in the midst of a busy commercial career when she was involved in a traffic accident in 1962. Although she survived, she lost her eyesight for a year and a half. After regaining her sight, she was deeply moved by the vibrantly alive figures of horses she saw in a movie and enraptured by the spiritual power of horses.



1931 Born in Tokyo, Japan
1952 Graduated from Bunka Gakuin
2009 Dies


1956 The Newcomer's Award from the Photographic Society of Japan
1960 Camera Geijutsu Art Award
1969 Great Print Makers of Today
1971 Annual Award Show Silver prize
1978 Photographic Society of Japan Annual Award
2010 Japan Racing Association Award for Distinguished Service 2009 JRA Equine Culture Award

Solo Exhibitions

1956 Daydreams, Matsushima Gallery, Tokyo
1957 Scenery of Mental Image, Fuji Photo Salon, Tokyo
1959 A Donkey, the King and Myself, Gekko Gallery, Tokyo
Summer Memories, Fuji Photo Salon, Tokyo
1960 Ophelia, Konishiroku Photo Gallery, Tokyo
1961 Model and North Wind, Gekko Gallery, Tokyo
1963 Lone, Rose Party, Fuji Photo Salon, Tokyo
1971 Travel to the Horses, Shinjuku Nikon Salon, Tokyo
1975 Lone, Rose Party Takashimaya, Osaka
1977 Le monde enchanteur des chevaux, Brussels and Paris

Selected Group Exhibition

1958 The First Exhibition of the Japan Women Photographers' Society, Konishiroku Photo Gallery, Tokyo
1960 Contemporary Photography Exhibition 1960, The National Museum of Modern Art , Tokyo
Non curated by FUKUSHIMA Tatsuo, Matsushima Gallery , Tokyo


1977 Hippolatry: le monde enchanteur des chevaux, Shinshindo Publishing
1980 The Thoroughbred, Azuma Publishing
1985 Symboli Rudolf, Kadokawa
1987 Applause to Thoroughbred Genkosha
1994 okai Teio, Kadokawa
1995 TAKE Yutaka’s 1000 won, Kadokawa
1999 Champion/Taiki Shuttle, Kadokawa

Public collection

Nihon University, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, George Eastman House Collection, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, Kawasaki City Museum Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts
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