Shigemori Koen (重森弘淹)

Koen SHIGEMORI (July 27, 1926 - October 13, 1992) was a photography critic.

He was born in Kyoto City. After graduating from the Faculty of Letters, Doshisha University, he became the chief editor of 'Ikebana geijutsu' (art of flower arrangement) in 1949 and, along with Hiroshi TESHIGAWARA and so on, started to seek a new direction in ikebana (flower arrangement) on a cross-school basis.

At the same time, he took part in 'Yoru no Kai' (the Night Society) organized by Taro OKAMOTO, Kiyoteru HANADA and so on, and 'Kiroku Geijutsu no Kai ' (Organization of the Documentary Arts) by Kobo ABE and so on; and started his activities looking at all kinds of arts as a whole. Around 1955, he began his career as a photography critic mainly for camera magazines. He critically succeeded to 'Realistic Photo Movement' which flourished in those days, but at the same time, welcomed the appearance of new types of photographic expression by Shomei TOMATSU, Ikko NARAHARA and so on. He also quickly introduced and commented on the works of William KLEIN, Robert FRANK and so on, which indicated the beginning of contemporary photography, and had a great influence on the trend of Japanese contemporary photography.

Having established 'Tokyo Photo School' in 1958 and renamed it Tokyo College of Photography in 1960 for further development, he devoted himself to training photographers while he developed his own photographic aesthetics and critical spirit.

Koen SHIGEMORI's fundamental idea both as a critic and an educator was: "An expression is a creator's critical act so that there is no expression without it." The idea has been carried on into the philosophy of Tokyo College of Photography, and the college continues to produce many radical and individual photographers.

He served as a member of Japan Photo Critics Association, the principal of Tokyo College of Photography, a guest professor at Tama Art University, a guest professor at Musashino Art University and an executive director of Japan Society of Image Arts and Sciences, and died in 1992.

[Original Japanese]