Gagosian Gallery is pleased to announce Hiroshi Sugimoto's Joe.
"I photographed Joe employing the same approach as my architectural series. A finished building is a product of negotiation; I used an out-of-focus technique in an effort to regain a sense of the architect's core idealist vision for the building. But, as a sculptor Serra does not have to compromise like an architect; Joe is his idealized vision. Thus the sculpture is a representation of pure form for us both." (Hiroshi Sugimoto)
Hiroshi Sugimoto is best known for his highly stylized photographic series of seascapes, movie theaters, natural history dioramas, waxworks and Buddhist sculptures. These series provoke fundamental questions about the relationship of photography and time, as well as exploring the mysterious and ineffable nature of reality. Joe is a series of black and white photographs that Sugimoto made of Richard Serra's sculpture at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in St. Louis.
In recent years, Sugimoto's work has become increasingly concrete at the same time as it has become notably more abstract. It has broken out of, or beyond, photographic illusion to touch the moment of an ideal space rendered in photography. In his Architecture series (1997-2002), rather than photographing key modernist buildings to elucidate their lines and volumes, Sugimoto blurred the image in an effort to capture not the buildings themselves but mental images of them. Similarly, using areas of soft light and dark, he has created fragmentary images of Richard Serra's sculpture Joe that function more like passages of visual memory than empirical recordings. Like a work of architecture, Serra's sculpture has to be experienced by walking around and through it. Permanently installed outdoors, it changes according to the time of day, the weather and the viewer's relation to it. Thus Sugimoto's photographs of Joe are parallel creations to the sculpture itself.
Using a nineteenth century-style, large-format camera, Sugimoto varies the length of exposure according to his subject matter. Joe was made with short exposure. The blurring effect results from Sugimoto's unconventional use of the camera's infinity function, where he forces his camera to focus on an imaginary "twice-infinity" spot. Significantly, the hand-developed gelatin-silver photographs are mounted on aluminum panels but are otherwise unframed, unglazed and unlaminated to draw attention to what Sugimoto describes as the "transformation from the three-dimensional steel source sculpture to the thin layers of what I would call my 'silver sculpture'."
The exhibition is accompanied by a book published by the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts earlier this year, which is a collaboration between the artist and novelist Jonathan Safran Foer.
Hiroshi Sugimoto was born in Tokyo in 1948. In 1970 he moved to Los Angeles and studied photography at the Art Center College of Design. He lives in New York and Tokyo. Sugimoto has exhibited extensively in major museum and galleries throughout the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, the Kunsthaus Bregenz and the Serpentine Gallery, London. A major traveling survey of his work opened at the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo in 2005, moving on to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. and the Fort Worth Art Museum in 2006. An exhibition of nineteen photographs in the Joe series continues at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Art, St. Louis until October 14, 2006.