These lots have been imported from outside the EU … Read more PROPERTY FROM THE CONSTANTINER COLLECTION, NEW YORK

Yellow Sea

Yellow Sea
gelatin silver print flush mounted on board, in artist's frame
signed and numbered 'H Sugimoto 1/5' in ink on a typed titled and dated label (frame backing board)
image/sheet/flush mount: 46 7/8 x 58 ½in. (119 x 148.6cm.)
overall: 60 1/8 x 72in. (152.8 x 183cm.)
Photographed and printed in 1992, this work is number one from an edition of five
Galerie Koyanagi, Tokyo.
Private Collection, Paris.
Anon. sale, Christie's New York, 13 November 2008, lot 324.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Sugimoto, exh. cat., Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art, 1993 (illustrated, unpaged).
H. Sugimoto, Hiroshi Sugimoto: Seascapes, Italy 2015, p. 271 (illustrated, p. 99).
Tokyo, Maison Hermes 8F Forum and London, Serpentine Gallery, L'histoire de l'historire, 2003 – 2004 (another from the edition exhibited).
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Jeremy Morrison
Jeremy Morrison

Lot Essay

Hiroshi Sugimoto is a patient, profoundly thoughtful artist who has spent his life exploring ways in which he can make meaningful photographs that quietly subvert the conventionally perceived limitations of the medium. Photography provides a practical means to faithfully capture and record visual data. The camera and its related photo-chemistry come together as a neutral recording facility, uniquely capable of the accurate replication in two dimensions of the three-dimensional material reality before the lens. In Sugimoto’s hands, however, the camera is enlisted to take the viewer beyond the material and into the realm of the abstract and transcendental.

Sugimoto’s seascapes – as with all the series that he so meticulously executes – explore concepts beyond their overt subject matter, which becomes secondary, a stepping stone towards the philosophical and existential questions with which these meditative images invite our engagement.

Sugimoto is profoundly intrigued by our relationship with time; the questioning of this relationship is central to his oeuvre. His seascapes emerged in response to a question that he put to himself some years ago. He was in New York at the time. In that dense, frenzied, high-speed urban environment, he reflected on what vista he might photograph that had not changed since mankind first contemplated our planet. The sea – in ceaseless movement yet timeless in its mass and vast extent, occupying the major proportion of the surface of the globe – presented itself as the ideal subject. And so began, in 1980, a project to make monochrome images of the sea at different points on the world map – images prized today as foremost among the artist’s most emblematic. With characteristic rigour, Sugimoto determined the strict formal parameters that he would respect through the series. Working with a large plate camera, he would make landscape-format pictures with the horizon line always delineating the precise centre of the image.

The sea has, of course, for centuries provided inspiration to creative spirits in various media – in painting, in drawing, but also in literary contexts, in song, and in dance. The sea has proved its hold over the human imagination in works as disparate as Turner’s mystical marine paintings, Baudelaire’s ‘L’Homme et la Mer’ in which the depths of the sea are the poet’s metaphor for the unfathomable human soul, and the Royal Ballet’s recent ‘Woolf Works’ inspired from Virginia Woolf’s The Waves, While many photographers have, since the 1850s, chosen the sea as a subject, most have concentrated on the physical characteristics of this elusive subject – perhaps most notably the crashing wave – and illustrated the sea’s relationship with the shore, and with the human life on and beside the water.

Sugimoto’s seascapes – and all the more emphatically his powerful large formats such as the present work – situate themselves apart from this photographic tradition. They align rather with the works of certain notable artists of the second half of the 20th century, in a lineage of abstractionists, foremost among them Mark Rothko, whose austere, minimal, horizontally bifurcated monochrome canvases draw us into those same eternal, immeasurable, contemplative spaces opened up by Sugimoto.

Philippe Garner

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