Patrick Nagatani, Photographer Famous for Collages, Dies at 72

Reviewing an exhibition of Mr. Nagatani’s photos in 2015 at the Griffin Museum of Picture taking in Winchester, Mass., Mark Feeney of The Boston World wrote: “To contact them photographs appears reductive. They happen to be variously large, small, in color, dark and white, staged, direct, funny, heartbreaking. The one constant is unpredictability.”

Mr. Nagatani blended multiple printing and hand-coloring to force the contours of picture taking. In one construction, he compared Hopi dancers to a battery pack of missiles pointing skyward to contrast modern day ideology and tribal myth.

Reviewing Mr. Nagatani’s publication “Nuclear Enchantment” in 1991 in The New York Situations, Peter B. Hales wrote that his photographic constructions “crackle with intelligence and rage.”

“They are glaringly colored absurdist constructions,” Mr. Hales wrote, “with almost all their cracks and props exhibiting, and they seem ideal to a topic inherently irrational: the annals of atomic weapons, their production and misuse, and the huge environmental consequences of contemporary hubris in bringing the technology into staying to begin with.”

Patrick Allen Ryiochi Nagatani was born on Aug. 19, 1945, in Chicago.


Before they married, Mr. Nagatani’s father and mother, John Nagatani and Diane Yoshimura, were separately kept in detention camps in California and Arkansas after the United States declared battle on Japan in December 1941. They met later within an early-release software in Chicago.

His father’s relatives had owned a farm in California. His mom had just graduated from senior high school when the internment buy was issued early on in 1942. His grandfather, who had fought in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5 and immigrated to america, was also interned.

“It broke him, it just broke his physical psychological getting,” Mr. Nagatani explained of his grandfather in a 2007 video tutorial interview for the University of New Mexico. “My grandfather left the country and returned to Japan and died a drunk.”

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With their young son, his parents moved back again to California, where his father became an aerospace engineer in Los Angeles and his mother taught school.

Mr. Nagatani earned a bachelor’s degree in 1968 from California State University in Los Angeles and a master’s in fine arts from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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