Hiroshi Sugimoto - Photographs New York Wednesday, October 1, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Sonnabend Gallery, New York
    Private Collection, New York

  • Exhibited

    Hiroshi Sugimoto, Sonnabend Gallery, New York, 22 March- 26 April 1997.
    Hiroshi Sugimoto: End of Time, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 17 September 2005- 9 January 2006; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C., 16 February- 14 May 2006 (as Hiroshi Sugimoto); Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, 17 September 2006- 21 January 2007; de Young Museum, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, 7 July- 23 September 2007 (as Hiroshi Sugimoto); K20 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, 14 July 2007- 6 January 2008; Museum der Moderne, Saltzburg, 8 March- 15 June 2008; Neue Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, 4 July- 5 October 2008; Kunstmuseum Luzern, Switzerland, 25 October 2008 – 25 January 2009.
    Rothko/Sugimoto: Dark Paintings and Seascapes, Pace Gallery, London, 4 October- 17 November 2012.

  • Literature

    Hatje Cantz, Hiroshi Sugimoto, pp. 110-113

  • Catalogue Essay

    “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.”

    Hiroshi Sugimoto’s series Seascapes majestically captures the infinitesimal nature of two of life’s building blocks— water and air—at times sharpening the horizon that delineates the two, at others blurring them together into a seamless, formless entity. By leaving a prolonged exposure on his camera, Sugimoto successfully collapses any of the instantaneous associations with the field of photography, turning each final image into an ethereal time capsule. The images in the series, therefore, are less about the physical attributes of the seas and more about their metaphysical essence. Accuracy in form is usurped by a spiritual presence. As such, the images are untethered to notions of time or even location. Indeed, outside the titles, Sugimoto removes any allusions to human presence. No vessels floating nearby, no visible terrains in the horizons. Despite their titles, the Seascapes are not about locations, but rather, the most stripped-down and minimalist portrayal thereof. They predate humanity. They are primordial.

    In the current lot, Tyrrhenian sea, Mount Polo (Morning, day, night), Sugimoto presents a triptych—the only one from the Seascapes series—whose impact far exceeds the mere combination of three distinct images. Each image, presumably photographed from the same elevated position but at different times of the day, presents an image devoid of any distinction between sea and water. This creates a further dilution of an already stark scene, transporting the viewers back to a time that precedes even the existence of seas and sky, when all that existed was light; Day One of Creation. Accordingly, Sugimoto has stated, “I’m inviting the spirits into my photography. It’s an act of God.” And yet, Tyrrhenian sea, Mount Polo (Morning, day, night), is not about religion. Rather, it is an invocation of the beginning, of what existed before there were divisions of land and sea and countries. It is the distillation of a place to peaceful purity. Moreover, as a triptych, its strength lies in the passage of time, fading from translucent light to complete darkness, marking the sole boundaries by which the passage of time can be measured.

    The serenity of the Tyrrhenian sea, Mount Polo (Morning, day, night) is owed to its meditation on tonality, removing any reference to form. In that regard, the triptych shares much in common with the works of American Post-War artists Ad Reinhardt and Mark Rothko, who reduced their paintings to nearly formless expressions of mood and atmosphere by turning color into the sole focal point of their art. Indeed, Sugimoto’s Tyrrhenian sea, Mount Polo (Morning, day, night) packs a contemplative and monumental impact that exceeds its physical qualities, imbued with a sacred tranquility.

  • Artist Biography

    Hiroshi Sugimoto

    Japanese • 1948

    Hiroshi Sugimoto's work examines the concepts of time, space and the metaphysics of human existence through breathtakingly perfect images of theaters, mathematical forms, wax figures and seascapes. His 8 x 10 inch, large-format camera and long exposures give an almost eerie serenity to his images, treating the photograph as an ethereal time capsule and challenging its associations of the 'instant.' 

    In his famed Seascapes, Sugimoto sublimely captures the nature of water and air, sharpening and blurring the elements together into a seamless, formless entity.  This reflection of the human condition and its relationship with time follows through his exploration of historical topics and timeless beauty as he uniquely replicates the world around us.

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Tyrrhenian Sea, Mount Polo (Morning, day, night)

Gelatin silver print triptych.
Each image 16 7/8 x 21 1/4 in. (42.9 x 54 cm)
Overall 26 1/4 x 99 3/4 in. (66.7 x 253.4 cm)

Each with blindstamp title, date and number 10/25 '400' in the margin; each signed on the verso.

The frames, as shown in the gallery image, were specially made by the artist specifically for this particular artwork.

$150,000 - 200,000 

Sold for $293,000

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New York Auction 1 October