Human Interest

Solo en Inglès

Listen to commentary by artists and scholars on selected works in Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney’s Collection, including Thelma Golden, K8 Hardy, Byron Kim, Deana Lawson, and Joan Semmel.

Toyo Miyatake, Michio Ito in the Pizzicato, 1929

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Dana Miller: Toyo Miyatake is a Japanese-born photographer, and he opened up a very successful photography studio in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles.

Narrator: Curator Dana Miller.

Dana Miller: He became pretty involved with another Japanese-born artist, a modern dancer named Michio Ito, who was really a pioneer of modern dance in this country, despite being relatively unknown, in part I think because he was Japanese-born and so his contribution has been, I think, somewhat minimized. But he spent four years in Los Angeles and did these major performances at the Hollywood Bowl. And Toyo Miyatake was his official company photographer, and he also worked for a time as the lighting designer for the dance company.

So what you see in Michio Ito in the Pizzicati is the influence of lighting on modern dance, and the way that Miyatake’s emphasizing that. And the shadow is just as prominent if not more prominent than the actual figure itself. This is a very modern way of looking at dance photography and Toyo Miyatake was kind of in the center of all of that activity.

Dana Miller: Toyo Miyatake is a Japanese-born photographer, and he opened up a very successful photography studio in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles.

Narrator: Curator Dana Miller.

Dana Miller: He became pretty involved with another Japanese-born artist, a modern dancer named Michio Ito, who was really a pioneer of modern dance in this country, despite being relatively unknown, in part I think because he was Japanese-born and so his contribution has been, I think, somewhat minimized. But he spent four years in Los Angeles and did these major performances at the Hollywood Bowl. And Toyo Miyatake was his official company photographer, and he also worked for a time as the lighting designer for the dance company.

So what you see in Michio Ito in the Pizzicati is the influence of lighting on modern dance, and the way that Miyatake’s emphasizing that. And the shadow is just as prominent if not more prominent than the actual figure itself. This is a very modern way of looking at dance photography and Toyo Miyatake was kind of in the center of all of that activity.


Toyo Miyatake, _Michio Ito in the Pizzicati_, 1929. Gelatin silver print, 13 15/16 × 10 11/16 in. (35.4 × 27.1 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from the Photography Committee 2014.242 © Toyo Miyatake Studio