Hiroshi Sugimoto

Japanese Photographer | Born: 1948

Hiroshi Sugimoto was born in Tokyo, Japan, in 1948, and lives and works in New York and Tokyo. His interest in art began early. His reading of André Breton’s writings led to his discovery of Surrealism and Dada and a lifelong connection to the work and philosophy of Marcel Duchamp.

Central to Sugimoto’s work is the idea that photography is a time machine, a method of preserving and picturing memory and time. This theme provides the defining principle of his ongoing series, including "Dioramas" (1976–), "Theaters" (1978–), and "Seascapes" (1980–). Sugimoto sees with the eye of the sculptor, painter, architect, and philosopher. He uses his camera in a myriad of ways to create images that seem to convey his subjects’ essence, whether architectural, sculptural, painterly, or of the natural world. He places extraordinary value on craftsmanship, printing his photographs with meticulous attention and a keen understanding of the nuances of the silver print and its potential for tonal richness—in his seemingly infinite palette of blacks, whites, and grays.

Recent projects include an architectural commission at Naoshima Contemporary Art Center in Japan, for which Sugimoto designed and built a Shinto shrine, and the photographic series, "Conceptual Forms," inspired by Duchamp’s "Large Glass: The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even." Sugimoto has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts; in 2001, he received Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography. He has had one-person exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; among others. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC, and Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, were joint organizers of a 2005 Sugimoto retrospective.

Source: PBS


Hiroshi Sugimoto was born in Japan in 1948. A photographer since the 1970s, his work deals with history and temporal existence by investigating themes of time, empiricism, and metaphysics. His primary series include: Seascapes, Theaters, Dioramas, Portraits (of Madame Tussaud’s wax figures), Architecture, Colors of Shadow, Conceptual Forms and Lightning Fields. Sugimoto has received a number of grants and fellowships, and his work is held in the collections of the Tate Gallery, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and the Metropolitan Museum of New York, among many others. Portraits, initially created for the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin, traveled to the Guggenheim New York in March 2001. Sugimoto received the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography in 2001. In 2006, a mid career retrospective was organized by the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. and the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo. A monograph entitled Hiroshi Sugimoto was produced in conjunction with the exhibition. He received the Photo España prize, also in 2006, and in 2009 was the recipient of the Paemium Imperiale, Painting Award from the Japan Arts Association. During the 2014 Venice Biennale, Sugimoto unveiled his “Glass Tea House Mondrian” at Le Stanze del Vetro on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore.

Source: Fraenkel Gallery

Hiroshi Sugimoto: Seascapes
Author: Hiroshi Sugimoto
Publisher: Damiani
Year: 2015 - Pages: 272
For more than 30 years, Hiroshi Sugimoto has traveled the world photographing its seas, producing an extended meditation on the passage of time and the natural history of the earth reduced to its most basic, primordial substances: water and air. Always capturing the sea at a moment of absolute tranquility, Sugimoto has composed all the photographs identically, with the horizon line precisely bifurcating each image. The repetition of this strict format reveals the uniqueness of each meeting of sea and sky, with the horizon never appearing exactly the same way twice. The photographs are romantic yet absolutely rigorous, apparently universal but exceedingly specific. The second in a series of luxurious, beautifully produced volumes each focused on specific bodies of Sugimoto's work, Seascapes presents the complete series of more than 200 Seascapes for the first time in one publication. Some of the photographs included have never before been reproduced.
 
Dioramas
Author: Hiroshi Sugimoto
Publisher: Damiani
Year: 2014 - Pages: 118
Hiroshi Sugimoto (born 1948) began his four-decade-long series Dioramas in 1974, inspired by a trip to the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Surrounded by the museum's elaborate, naturalistic dioramas, Sugimoto realized that the scenes jumped to life when looked at with one eye closed. Recreated forestry and stretches of uninhabited land, wild, crouching animals against painted backgrounds and even prehistoric humans seemed entirely convincing with this visual trick, which launched a conceptual exploration of the photographic medium that has traversed his entire career. Focusing his camera on individual dioramas as though they were entirely surrounding scenes, omitting their frames and educational materials and ensuring that no reflections enter the shot, his subjects appear as if photographed in their natural habitats. He also explores the power of photography to create history--in his own words, "photography functions as a fossilization of time." Hiroshi Sugimoto: Dioramas narrates a story of the cycle of life, death and rebirth, from prehistoric aquatic life to the propagation of reptile and animal life to Homo sapiens' destruction of the earth, circling back to its renewal, where flora and fauna flourish without man. Here Sugimoto writes his own history of the world, an artist's creation myth.
 
Hiroshi Sugimoto: Nature of Light
Author: Hiroshi Sugimoto
Publisher: Ram Distribution
Year: 2011 - Pages: 154
This catalog, produced in conjunction with Sugimoto's upcoming exhibition at the Izu Photo Museum in Japan, documents this important artist's recent investigations on the science and the presentation of photography. Documenting in detail Sugimoto's architectural and landscape design of the new Izu Photo Museum, the book is at once a reinvention of the artist as architect, as it is an insightful guide to Sugimoto's interest in the earliest beginnings of photography. Instigated by the urging of his friend, Pop art icon Richard Hamilton, Sugimoto went to England to visit the museum of William Henry Fox Talbot, the inventor of the negative/positive photographic process. Finding common ground with Talbots' polymathic interests in art and science, this book details images from Sugimoto's Photogenic Drawing Talbot pieces, where Sugimoto reinterprets 15 unprinted negatives from Talbot's early studies, as well as 15 images from the artist's Lightning Field series. Includes text by critic Minoru Shimizu.
 
Hiroshi Sugimoto
Author: Hiroshi Sugimoto, Kerry Brougher
Publisher: Hatje Cantz
Year: 2010 - Pages: 400
Genius of the large-format camera, the long exposure and the silverprint, New York-based photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto has made pictures that seem to contain whole aeons of time within themselves, and suggest an infinite palette of tonal wealth in blacks, grays and whites. Many of these images have now become a part of art culture's popular image bank (as U2's use of Sugimoto's "Boden Sea" for the cover of their 2009 album, No Line on the Horizon, demonstrated), while simultaneously evoking photography's earliest days: "I probably call myself a postmodern-experienced pre-postmodern modernist," he once joked to an interviewer. This absolutely exquisite retrospective is an expanded edition of Hatje Cantz's 2005 volume. It is the first to feature works from all of Sugimoto's series to date: his celebrated portraits of wax figures, his incredible seascapes that seem to suggest a person's first conscious view of the ocean, the extremely long exposures of theaters which elevate the white, luminescent cinema screen and transform it into a magical image of an altar and the fascinating dioramas of scientific display cases, which invite us to travel far into the past. Additions to the original edition are two new groups of works, "Lightning Fields" (2006) and "Photogenic Drawings" (2007).
 
Portraits
Author: Hiroshi Sugimoto, Tracey Bashkoff
Publisher: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Year: 2003 - Pages: 170
Hiroshi Sugimoto here turns to the wax figures he first explored in his Dioramas series. Combining poetic imagination and noble elegance, this body of work presents life-size black-and-white portraits of historical figures--Henry VIII, each of his six wives and Oscar Wilde, among others--photographed in wax museums and dramatically lit so as to create haunting images. Featuring an interview with the artist by Tracey Bashkoff and essays by Carol Armstrong, Norman Bryson, Thomas Kellein and Nancy Spector, this book offers fresh insights into the work of this important contemporary artist. Portraits was created specially for the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin and was exhibited at the former Guggenheim Soho.
 
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