Hiroshi Sugimoto: The Day After

When 6 Nov 2010 - 24 Dec 2010
Where The Pace Gallery
545 West 22nd Street
New York, NY 10010
United States
Enquiry 212.929.7000

Lightning Fields 177, 2009, Hiroshi Sugimoto. Courtesy of the artist and The Pace Gallery, New York


November 6 through December 24, 2010

Opening Reception: November 5 from 6 to 8 p.m

Press Release:

The Pace Gallery is honored to present its first exhibition by internationally acclaimed artist Hiroshi Sugimoto since announcing its representation of him earlier this year. Hiroshi Sugimoto: The Day After will be on view at 545 West 22nd Street from November 6 through December 24, 2010. The artist will attend the public opening on Friday, November 5 from 6 to 8 p.m. A catalogue, with an essay written by Sugimoto, accompanies the show.

The Day After at 545 West 22nd Street will be divided into three main gallery spaces, mirroring Sugimoto’s conceptual approach to the exhibition about which he remarked, “I wish to simulate the history of the earth in three periods: first, a dark hot planet shrouded in thick clouds of gas, its primordial sea repeatedly struck by lightning and pelleted by tiny asteroids; second, a stable atmosphere and vast murky protobiotic waters; and third, the Paleozoic sea churning with biological phenomena.”

The first and third galleries will feature the 2009 Lightning Fields series including nine 58-3/4” x 47” single works and two diptychs, each measuring 58-3/4” x 47′ and now considered Sugimoto’s largest photographs. Sugimoto radically created the Lightning Fields through a method that did not involve the use of a camera. Instead, in his darkroom, he relied on 400,000 volts of electricity produced from a Van der Graaf Generator and various electrical discharge devices of his own design. He also pursued aqueous discharge experiments with electrically charged film and saltwater baths to create, in both instances, photographs whose subjects literally resemble lightning or primordial life forms.

On display in the middle gallery, with only natural light provided by the building’s skylights, will be seven gelatin-silver prints from 1987–1996 from Sugimoto’s Seascape series. Known for their equal proportions of sky and sea and the very definite lack of human presence, the Seascapes on view range from the North Atlantic Ocean, Cliffs of Moher to the Mirtoan Sea, Sounion, to the Sea of Japan.

From evidence of early life to the experiments and discoveries of two leading 19th century inventors: Michael Faraday and William Henry Fox Talbot, The Day After is the result of Sugimoto’s study of science, early photographic methods and his personal interest in the universe’s conception and the recording of time. The Faraday Cage/Bachelor Machine (2010), an homage to scientific and artistic creation built by Sugimoto using a Tesla coil electric generator, a birdcage, and various found objects, will be on view near the gallery’s entrance.

Hiroshi Sugimoto is a collector of unique objects from different periods in history, including meteorites and prehistoric fossils, which the artist calls “pre-photography time recording devices.” Fossils from the Carboniferous period and a fragment of the Allende Meteorite, which contains amino acids and tested for proto-organic molecules in its speckled core, will be on view. Estimated to be 4.567 billion years old, the Allende Meteorite is perhaps 30 million years older than earth and 287 million years older than the oldest terrestrial rock. Alongside these specimens will be three 1992 gelatin-silver prints from the Diorama series depicting the Devonian and Permian periods of the Paleozoic Era.

Hiroshi Sugimoto (born Tokyo, 1948) has lived and worked in New York City since 1974. Hiroshi Sugimoto’s interest in art began early. Influenced by Minimalism and Conceptual Art, he also has a lifelong connection to the work and philosophy of Marcel Duchamp. Central to Sugimoto’s work is the idea that photography is a time machine, a method of preserving and picturing memory and time. This theme provides the defining principle of his ongoing series including, among others, Dioramas (1976– ); Theaters (1978– ); and Seascapes (1980– ). He places extraordinary value on the technical aspects of photography, printing his work with meticulous attention and a keen understanding of the nuances of silver-print making and its potential for tonal richness in his seemingly infinite palette of blacks, whites, and grays. His recent projects include an architectural commission at Naoshima Contemporary Art Center in Japan, for which Sugimoto designed and built a Shinto shrine, and the photographic series, Conceptual Forms, inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s Large Glass: The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even.

In 2005, Japan Society, New York, and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, organized a US and Canadian tour of Hiroshi Sugimoto: History of History, an exhibition curated by Sugimoto of his own personal collection of antiquities. The New York show was heralded as the “Best Museum Show of 2005″ by New York magazine. In 2008, The Kanazawa 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Museum of Art in Japan presented an expanded version of History of History. The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC, and the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, are joint organizers of a 2005 Sugimoto US retrospective tour. A European version of the retrospective was organized by K20 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in 2007. Subsequent venues included the Museum der Moderne Mönchsberg and Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin. Earlier this month, Hatje Cantz released a newly expanded edition of the artist’s self-titled retrospective catalogue, featuring an essay by Pia Müller-Tamm and including two new bodies of work.

He has had one-person exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; LAMoCA; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; MCA Chicago; and Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, among others.

Hiroshi Sugimoto has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts and he is the recipient of honorary doctorates and awards including the Praemium Imperiale Award for Painting (2009), the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography (2001), and the International Center of Photography, 15th Annual Infinity Award for Art, New York (1999).

His work is in numerous public collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; The National Gallery, London; The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; Smithsonian Institute of Art, Washington, DC, and Tate, London, among others.

For more information, please visit thepacegallery.com