Art Term

Provoke Era

Provoke was a Japanese magazine which rejected glossy commercial imagery and the style of documentary photography. The Provoke era refers to its influence on photography made in post-war Japan

Yutaka Takanashi, ‘Toshi-e’ 1974, printed 2012
Yutaka Takanashi
Toshi-e 1974, printed 2012

Following the decimation and rebuilding of Japanese society after the Second World War, photography played an important part in a new self-definition of Japanese visual style, set apart from Western influences.

Provoke was a magazine with only three issues in the late 1960s, but its influence continued into the 1970s and 80s. It set itself apart from the photojournalistic style of the day, looking for a more subjective voice and validation of the person behind the camera. The images are often grainy and disorderly, reflecting the social and political upheavals taking place across the nation. It also constrasted with the glossy imagery of commercial magazines.

Takuma Nakahira and Yutaka Takanashi were founding members of the Provoke group. Daido Moriyama joined a little later, bringing with him his early influences of Cartier-Bresson, but with a desire to be a witness with more self-expressive intent.

related terms and concepts

explore this term

  • Watch

    Daido Moriyama: In Pictures

    Daido Moriyama uses an ordinary compact camera and never stops shooting. He is one of Japan's most celebrated photographers.

  • Watch

    Daido Moriyama: Erotic City

    Daido Moriyama talks of capturing the eroticism of Tokyo city life in his rapid fire, grainy photographs

  • Listen

    Artist’s talk: Daido Moriyama

    On the occasion of Tate Modern’s William Klein + Daido Moriyama exhibition, curator Simon Baker talks to the Japanese photographer ...

selected artists in the collection

selected artworks in the collection

provoke era at tate

  • Tate Modern


    William Klein + Daido Moriyama

    10 Oct 2012 – 20 Jan 2013
    Tate Modern exhibition William Klein + Daido Moriyama explores relationship between both men’s work. 10 October 2012 - 20 January 2013