Born in 1948 and raised in Tokyo, Hiroshi Sugimoto is a photographer originally from Japan. He studies sociology and politics at Rikkyō University in the same city he grew up in. In 1974, he acquired Bachelor in Fine Arts degree from Los Angeles at the Art Center College of Design. Later on, he shifted to New York.
Sugimoto’s works are made up of several series with each one being distinctive in its theme. The photographer himself described his work as an expression of exposed time or images that act as capsules of time of a series of occurrences. Moreover, his work focuses on the variance between existence and passing away.
He is influenced by Marcel Duchamp’s works and writings, as well as Surrealist and Dadaist movements. Sugimoto also articulated his immense interest in the contemporary architecture of the 20th century.
Hiroshi Sugimoto as a photographer has garnered a respectable reputation by his usage of long exposures and large format photographs. He is also highly praised for the philosophical and conceptual features reflecting in his work.
In 1976, he produced Dioramas – a series which shows the displays inside museums of history. He initially conducted his photography sessions at the American Museum of National History – a location he revisited for dioramas in 1982 and 1994, then in 2012. It is a cultural plus a general assumption that camera always reflect reality, however there are tricks photographers use in order to make viewers assume that the animals or any object in the photographs are real until they examine it carefully and closely.
Apart from making the fake look real, in 1978, Theatres was a series by Sugimoto in which he photographed old and highly decorated movie places in America, and drive-ins. The images exposed the architectural details. The objects in the pictures and the lighting give Sugimoto’s work a surreal appearance.
Two years later, he began photographing a series of images of the horizon and the sea itself. For this assignment, he used a traditional large format camera to expose film with varying duration. The locations he covered, include the Arctic Ocean, English Channel, Positano (Italy), Tasman Sea, the Black Sea in Turkey, and the Norwegian Sea. The pictures were the same size and in black and white. The horizon is bifurcated in half.
In 1999, he made Portraits. This series is supported by the analogous idea of dioramas. Sugimoto, in this series took pictures of Henry VIII and his wives’ wax figures. His focus was in London on Madame Tussaud’s creations as well as a museum of wax in the Itō, Japan.
Hiroshi Sugimoto is not only a photographer but a proficient architect as well. He approaches his work from various perspectives and he uses his architect mind to set his exhibitions. In 1995, in Kyoto, he took pictures of Sanjūsangen-dō which means Hall of 33 Bays. In 1997, he began photographing a notable buildings worldwide, a project commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art. In 2001, he traveled all over Japan photographing pine landscapes with reference to Japanese ink-paintings from the 16th century. Twelve years later, he created a garden and sculpture for a restaurant called Sasha Kanetanaka in Tokyo.
Sugimoto’s work portfolio doesn’t end here, he has done many other projects as well. His work has been exhibited expansively at well-known international galleries and museums, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, 1995; the Kunsthaus Bregenz in Austria, 2002; the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain in Paris, 2004; and many more.