Estimate: US$350,000 - US$550,000
Price realised: US$305,000
Hiroshi Sugimoto Lake Superior, Cascade River 1995 Gelatin silver print, flush-mounted. 46 3/4 x 58 1/2 in. (118.7 x 148.6 cm) Signed in ink, printed title, date and number 2/5 on a gallery label affixed to the reverse of the frame.
Provenance Private collection, New York Exhibited Sugimoto: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 21 November 1995 - 14 January 1996; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, 31 July - 1 September 1996; Hara Museum ARC, Gunma 14 September - 15 December 1996; Akron Art Museum, 4 April - 31 May 1998 Sugimoto: Sala de Exposiciones da Fundación "la Caixa", Madrid, 29 May - 26 July 1998; Centro Cultural de Belém, Lisboa, 16 October 1998 - 24 January 1999 Hiroshi Sugimoto Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 17 September 2005 - 9 January 2006; Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C., 16 February - 14 May 2006 Literature Hatje/Cantz, Hiroshi Sugimoto p. 137 Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, and Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Sugimoto, p. 73 Fundación “la Caixa” e Centro Cultural de Belém, Sugimoto, p. 173 Sugimoto, Hiroshi Sugimoto History of History, p. 287 Video HIROSHI SUGIMOTO - 'LAKE SUPERIOR, CASCADE RIVER', 1995 Phillips presents Hiroshi Sugimoto's 'Lake Superior, Cascade River', 1995 in New York's Photographs Evening Sale, 1 April 2015. Catalogue Essay Like sea shells washed ashore, floating unencumbered, a fragment of time drifts toward the depth of my consciousness. Gazing upon the sea, I feel I may arrive at its origin from that bygone time by retracing that which drifts from beyond. This saga commenced with the sea and it shall end with the sea. Like the human civilization that flourished amidst the glacial periods. Will the splendid moon rise above the stark night sea? —Hiroshi Sugimoto “Every time I view the sea, I feel a calming sense of security, as if visiting my ancestral home; I embark on a voyage of seeing.”—Hiroshi Sugimoto Throughout a formidable career that has spanned for nearly four decades, Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto has continuously explored the limits of photography, perhaps most notably in rebuking connotations of instantaneity. Over multiple bodies of work—from prehistoric dioramas to movie theatres, architectural masterpieces, wax figures and as seen in the current lot, seascapes—the artist has elegantly negated the common misconception that a camera’s strength lies in its accurate capturing of a given moment. “To me photography works as the fossilization of time,” the artist has reflected. “The accumulation of time and history becomes a negative of the image.” Awareness of the passing of time, therefore, is integral to the strength of his photographs. In his Seascapes series, of which the current lot is a superb example, Sugimoto focused on life’s most rudimentary building blocks, water and air, for their strength as “the most abstract themes.” In preparation for each image, the artist spent anywhere between one and three weeks staying at the location, observing the sea, never from a boat, always on the ground. “I feel like I’m part of that nature and landscape,” he has explained. “I start feeling ‘This is the creation of the universe and I’m witnessing it.’” The reference to creation is noteworthy, as the series is remarkably devoid of any contemporaneous references. Sugimoto’s horizons are consistently minimalist, lacking ships, aircrafts, distant lands, birds, clouds, stars or people. They are stripped down to how the sea would have likely existed for millions of years, well before the introduction of any of the aforementioned man-made influences. Their physical presence under Sugimoto’s lens is subsequently transformed into a spiritual essence. In Lake Superior, Cascade River, the sea and sky at first glance appear to have merged into a single entity, fully and deeply black. Indeed, they appear as a single primordial block, one in which air and water are indistinguishable. However, a closer look reveals a magnificent sliver of light on the horizon, a reflective hint of the moon’s presence. Its subtle appearance is poetic and eloquent, making itself seen only upon closer inspection and deep meditation. Under Sugimoto’s lens, Lake Superior is transformed into a Rothko Black-Fo
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