Kunié Sugiura - ULTIMATE Evening & Photographs Day Sales London Thursday, May 17, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    From the artist

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘New York was very essential to me, I couldn’t think of being in another place. I appreciate the time I have spent here.’

    Kunié Sugiura

    In this remarkable work by New York-based Japanese artist Kunié Sugiura, two canvases are assembled side by side: one, measuring 191 cm wide, is painted with black acrylic, and the other ,measuring 102 cm high, is printed with a black-and-white photograph. As the title suggests, the vertical view of the northwest corner of Central Park West, seen from an elevated perspective, was taken from the Dakota, Manhattan’s iconic co-operative building. Addressing the materiality of photographic emulsion in her work, Sugiura has combined photography and painting to create a unique visual experience.

    During the 1960s, Sugiura studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) under Kenneth Josephson, who influenced her to become the only undergraduate in her class to major in Photography. At a time when Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg were creating silkscreens on canvas, Sugiura began printing photographs onto canvas, driven by a desire to equate photography with painting. After graduating from SAIC in 1967, Sugiura moved to New York, where she has lived and worked for the past five decades. Her work was first exhibited in 1972 in the Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting at the Whitney Museum of American Art. As her creative process evolved, she discovered a new visual dynamic by arranging photographic images alongside monochrome paintings. In this body of work termed ‘photo-painting’, Sugiura created a synergy between the two media.

    ‘Size matters. Material matters. Image matters.’

    Kunié Sugiura

    In order to print her photographs onto large canvases, Sugiura made her own liquid gelatin silver emulsion, with which she coated the canvas. She then exposed the photosensitive surface by using a black-and-white negative in an enlarger and a projector. Due to the large size of the canvas, the developing process involved directly applying the chemicals onto the surface. ‘I like to put enough photo emulsion on the canvas so I can get the images, but it’s not important to me whether it’s perfect or not,’ she explains. ‘Maybe that’s because I like things like kintsugi, which are broken [ceramics] but repaired with gold. It’s a Japanese idea.’ The resulting work bears the marks of its creation, challenging the idea that beauty is synonymous with perfection.

    View from Dakota is among the largest of Sugiura’s unique ‘photo-paintings’ and is her most significant work to be offered at auction. Sugiura has exhibited internationally and her work resides in many prominent institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; and Tate Modern, London. Her first major retrospective will be held at the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum from 24 July to 24 September 2018.



View from Dakota

executed 1979
Unique work in two parts, comprising gelatin silver emulsion and acrylic on canvas.
102 x 252 cm (40 1/8 x 99 1/4 in.)
Signed, titled and dated in ink/pencil on the reverse of each canvas.

This work is unique.

£20,000 - 30,000 

Sold for £20,000

Contact Specialist
Genevieve Janvrin
Co-Head of Photographs, Europe
+33 1 53 71 77 87

Yuka Yamaji
Co-Head of Photographs, Europe
+44 20 7318 4098

ULTIMATE Evening & Photographs Day Sales

London Auction 18 May 2018