Iwao Yamawaki was one of the only Japanese students to attend the Bauhaus during the 1930’s, and plays an interesting role at the intersection of Modernism and Japan’s history of photography. He began his career in Tokyo as an architect but became dissatisfied with Japanese practices and left to enrol with his wife as students at the Bauhaus in Dessau. He began by continuing his architectural studies, but quickly moved on to the photography department where he produced some of his best work, focussed on architectural photography, portraits, still-lifes and photomontages.
One can see that Yamawaki’s photographic practice was highly influenced by his Bauhaus teachers, including Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Walter Peterhans who encouraged the dynamism that became a hallmark of his visual language. In 1931, Yamawaki and his wife returned to Japan on the Trans Siberian Railway, stopping briefly in Moscow where this strange and powerful vintage print was made. Whilst ostensibly a reportage photograph, it clearly shows Yamawaki’s talent in interpreting the connection between human beings and urban architectural spaces.