• The Family of Man (1956) in Tokyo, Japan: Kenzo Tange's Pursuit of the Notions of Humanity/Humanism through his Exhibition Design
    Yasufumi Nakamori

The Family of Man (Warera Ningen Kazoku), installation view at the Takashimaya Department Store, 1956, Tokyo. Courtesy of Takashimaya Historical Museum.

Kenzo Tange's first exhibition design, including his curatorial contribution—which involved scaling and sequencing approximately 500 photographs for the 1956 presentation of the MoMA exhibition The Family of Man in Tokyo and six other Japanese cities—has not been studied thoroughly. While Tange's exhibition design can be linked to his interest in the functional Bauhaus, it also illuminates his desire to create a democratic, dynamic, and utopian space through architecture and to circulate these images in the context of post-1945 Japan. Coupled with his interest in pre-modern Japanese design, expression, and building technologies, which formulated the discourse known as dento ronso (tradition discourse), the Family of Man design addresses Tange's position that architecture is an environment that maximized the humanity and human condition of the Cold War era.

Yasufumi Nakamori is an art historian and curator with a special interest in the relationship between architecture and photography. Currently, he serves as curator of photography and new media at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. His doctoral dissertation (Cornell, 2011) traces the emergence of the artistic imagination that envisioned an archetype of the city, as visualized in four specific projects created by architects and artists in collaboration between 1953 and 1970 in Japan. Part of it was presented as Katsura, Picturing Modernism in Japanese Architecture: Photography by Ishimoto Yasuhiro, an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. A book by the same title (MFA Houston in association with Yale University Press, 2010) received the Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Award for Smaller Collections and Exhibitions from the College Art Association (2011). Nakamori has taught modern and contemporary Japanese art and architecture at Rice University and Hunter College, CUNY.