Hiroshi Sugimoto, Japanese (1948 - )

Hiroshi Sugimoto was born in 1948 in Tokyo. He took his earliest photographs in high school, photographing film footage of Audrey Hepburn as it played in a movie theater. After receiving a B.A. from Saint Paul’s University in Tokyo in 1970, he traveled west, first encountering communist countries such as the Soviet Union and Poland, and later Western Europe. In 1971, he visited Los Angeles and decided to stay, receiving a B.F.A. from the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles in 1972. In 1974, he moved to New York. Visiting the city’s American Museum of Natural History for the first time two years later, he was intrigued by the lifelike qualities of the dioramas of animals and people. These provided the subject matter for the earliest of his Dioramas series, which, along with the Seascapes and Theaters series (deadpan, near-abstract photographs of such sites), were conceived between 1976 and 1977 and have continued through the present. He has since developed other ongoing series, including photographs of waxwork-museum figures, drive-in theaters, and Buddha sculptures, all of which similarly blur distinctions between the real and the fictive. In Praise of Shadows (1998) is a series of photographs based on Gerhard Richter’s paintings of burning candles. His recent work includes the Architecture series (2000–03), which consists of blurred images of well-known examples of Modernist architecture. Favoring black-and-white, Sugimoto has continued to use the same camera, a turn-of-the-century box camera, throughout his career.

Sugimoto has had solo exhibitions at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Osaka (1989), Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (1994), Centre International d’Art Contemporain in Montreal (1995), Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston (1996), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2000), Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin and Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (2000), and Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (2003), among other venues. He has also participated in numerous international group exhibitions, among them The Art of Memory/The Loss of History at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York (1985), Carnegie International (1991), Japanese Art After 1945: Scream Against the Sky at the Yokohama Museum of Art and Guggenheim Museum SoHo (1994), Prospect 96 at the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt (1996), Johannesburg Biennale (1997), International Triennale of Contemporary Art in Yokohama (2001), and Moving Pictures at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (2002). He received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in 1980 and the National Endowment for the Arts in 1982. In 2001, he won the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography. He lives and works in New York.


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