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Hiroshi Sugimoto
January 17, 2009 8:03 PM   Subscribe

"Developing a low-quality aesthetic is a sign of serious fine art." Hiroshi Sugimoto is a Japanese photographer most famous for blank seascapes and photos of empty theaters that aren't really empty. In a 2005 interview he talks about the relation of his work with Duchamp, Man Ray, and the mathematics faculty of Tokyo university. He won the 2001 Hasselblad prize and his photographs of plaster models of mathematical surfaces have appeared in the New York Times. But his work has never really broken out to a mass audience. Until now.
posted by escabeche (21 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks for posting this, I'm a big fan of this guy and hadn't seen that interview (or knew about the CD cover).
posted by bradbane at 8:06 PM on January 17, 2009


Seconding exactly what bradbane wrote. Great post, thanks!
posted by oulipian at 8:16 PM on January 17, 2009


Dressed up as a tourist, I walked into a cheap cinema in the East Village with a large-format camera. As soon as the movie started, I fixed the shutter at a wide-open aperture, and two hours later when the movie finished, I clicked the shutter closed. That evening, I developed the film, and the vision exploded behind my eyes.

Thanks for introducing me to this guy.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:37 PM on January 17, 2009


To be honest, if I was an award winning photog, and my Big Break finally came, and it was a U2 album, I would be pretty depressed.
posted by paisley henosis at 8:51 PM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks for introducing me to this guy.

This.
posted by Foosnark at 9:01 PM on January 17, 2009


I love Sugimoto. I hadn't seen that interview before, either. Thanks, escabeche. Great post.
posted by chupacabra at 9:14 PM on January 17, 2009


That big fat equals sign kind of ruins it, but that's U2 for you.
posted by delmoi at 10:03 PM on January 17, 2009


That big fat equals sign kind of ruins it, but that's U2 for you.

Yeah, those Irish bastards just won't stop ruining artistic black and white photographs. Makes me mad.
posted by longsleeves at 10:28 PM on January 17, 2009


To be honest, if I was an award winning photog, and my Big Break finally came, and it was a U2 album, I would be pretty depressed.

Hiroshi Sugimoto is part of the permanent collection at the Tate which many photographers would consider a Big Break.

Also: great post.
posted by meech at 11:00 PM on January 17, 2009


That U2 album cover is uncannily similar to the back cover of Brothomstate's Claro album. Minimalism being what it is, I am not saying anyone ripped anyone off. Just noting the similarity.
posted by aubilenon at 11:03 PM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Great post, with lots of good links, but I think the U2 cover is a bit irrelevant - when Sugimoto had his show at the DeYoung in San Francisco last year the exhibition was packed from the first day to the last.
posted by twsf at 11:08 PM on January 17, 2009


A big thank you for this! In a world increasingly filled with lame photos, it's reassuring to see that there are still titans working.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:33 AM on January 18, 2009


I like this a lot. Thanks.
posted by tiny crocodile at 5:11 AM on January 18, 2009


aubilenon beat me to it! The very first thing I thought when I saw the U2 cover: "Hmm, I've seen this before...."
posted by Floach at 6:05 AM on January 18, 2009


I think the U2 cover is a bit irrelevant - when Sugimoto had his show at the DeYoung in San Francisco last year the exhibition was packed from the first day to the last.

With people who go to exhibits at the DeYoung!

I maintain we should be happy when rock bands put art photography in front of people who don't already look at it.
posted by escabeche at 6:30 AM on January 18, 2009


I love Sugimoto. Both the Freer/Sackler & Hirshhorn had exhibits of his stuff a couple of years ago and I went to see them a couple of times. I particularly love Sea of Buddhas and Colors of Shadows.

He has such an interesting way of looking at the world. He seems to see things other people wouldn't, or recognize things differently than the rest of us.
posted by darksong at 1:40 PM on January 18, 2009


Blank seascapes? Reminds me of the eccentric millionaire Bartlebooth, from Perec's Life - A User's Manual, who paints watercolours of totally drab, featureless seascapes, has them made up into complicated jigsaw puzzles, which he then reassembles, glues back together, removes the backing & then bleaches the paper white, leaving him back where he started.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:28 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just saw an overview of Sugimoto's work on an episode of Art:21 — he was featured in the "Memory" episode from Season 3.

Here are a bio and video excerpts from the show.
posted by limeswirltart at 8:40 PM on January 18, 2009


I just wanted to point out that if you're in NYC, the Gagosian on 21st St. has an exhibition of the seascapes called "7 Days / 7 Nights" that is absolutely incredible and really worth seeing. Runs through March 7.
posted by ecab at 10:40 PM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the tip ecab.
posted by JBennett at 7:44 AM on January 19, 2009


The new U2 cover is also remarkably similar to this 12k/LINE release from 2006.

From the original press release: "For this collaboration, sound artists Richard Chartier and Taylor Deupree were invited by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC, to create a new live work inspired by the Seascapes series of renowned Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto on the occasion of his retrospective exhibition. The result is this live recording, Specification.Fifteen. This work premiered on March 30, 2006 in front of the curved panoramic window of the Museum's Lerner Room as the sun set across the city's skyline. Specification.Fifteen evokes the stillness and opposing yet related spaces of Sugimoto's Seascapes, which suggest infinitesimal change and variation under a seemingly uniform surface."
posted by Dean King at 9:10 AM on January 19, 2009


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