IMAGE POWER POLITICS: Yoichi Okamoto. Post-war photography icon

Graphic design of the exhibition in the State Hall of the Austrian National Library.

Europe 1945. Famous photographers were making impressive images of Europe emerging anew from a world war sparked by the Nazi regime. They included the American photographer Yoichi Okamoto (1915-1985), who came to Europe as military photographer in spring 1945 and was commissioned in Austria as the personal photographer of the Commander-in-Chief of the American forces in Austria, General Mark W. Clark. His main subject was life after the war, people's hope, the pursuit of happiness, reconstruction, art and culture, and creativity in Austria.

In 2019, the Austrian National Library acquired the personal photographic estate of Yoichi Okamoto, whose art inspired a whole generation of photographers in Austria and internationally.

The large special exhibition in the State Hall of the Austrian National Library presents for the first time an extensive selection of impressive images documenting the visual history of Austria from the beginnings of the 2nd Republic: A unique photographic oeuvre in which society, politics, art and culture were captured from Okamoto's special point of view. Images that he himself considered his best and worthy of being preserved for posterity.

The exhibition also provides unique insights into Austrian-American relations after 1945, when Okamoto headed the Pictorial Section of the United States Information Services Branch in Austria and documented all the Marshall Plan projects in Austria. Okamoto was the son of Japanese immigrants, served in the US Army himself and met his wife Paula in Vienna. In 1963, he became the official presidential photographer in the White House under Lyndon B. Johnson.

Curated by Marlies Dornig and Hans Petschar

(Text: Österreichische Nationalbibliothek)

Graphic production: checkpointmedia, Virgil WidrichGrafic design: Nicole Stadler