Craftsmanship is very important to me. In this postmodern age, there’s no respect for craft, it's more concept. Trying to be as ‘fine’ as possible seems to be outdated for a while. (H. Sugimoto, 2005)
Born in Tokyo, Japan, on February 23, 1948. After graduating in Economics and Politics from Saint Paul’s University, Tokyo, in 1970 he moved to the United States to study at the Art Center College in Los Angeles. On completing the course, he opened a studio in Japan and one in New York, where he settled in 1974. Through the writings of André Breton he discovered Surrealism and Dada and the works of Marcel Duchamp. In 1977 the Minami Gallery organized his first exhibition, followed by numerous solo and group exhibitions. Trained in a period when the American scene was dominated by Conceptual Art and Minimalism, Sugimoto was influenced by their aesthetics, revisiting through the language of photography motifs recurrent in the works of artists such as Carl Andre or Dan Flavin, including geometrical elements, the use of black and white and light as an artistic material. The crux of his poetic is the idea of photography as a time machine, a way to protect and represent the dimension of memory. Out of this grew the principal series of works which he produced from the late seventies on. They included: Diorama – American Museum of Natural History (from 1976), based on the trompe l’oeil interaction between embalmed and living animals, rather like what we find in the Portraits (1999) taken at Madame Tussaud’s; Theaters (from 1978), in which the artist photographed old American film theaters and drive-ins so that the exposure of the film coincided with the duration of the film; and finally Seascapes (from 1980): horizons of water and sky photographed in different parts of the globe. The use of black and white and a regular format (8x10 cm) were characteristic elements of Sigimoto’s work from the start, together with the essential value attributed to mastery of craftsmanship and the quality of the prints of images. In 2001 he received the International Prize of the Hasselblad Foundation for Photography. In 2005 and 2006 the traveling retrospective exhibition End of Time was organized by the Mori Art Museum of Tokyo, while the anthological History of History was conceived and curated by the artist himself. It grew out of a collaboration between the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Freer Gallery of Art and the Japan Society of New York City. He lives in Tokyo and New York.
20.12.03 | 29.02.04
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