Image: Baltic Sea, Rugen
(Tokyo, 1948 - )

Baltic Sea, Rugen , 1996

Selenium toned gelatin silver print
16 1/2 in. x 21 1/4 in. (41.91 cm x 53.98 cm)
Knight Purchase Fund for Photographic Media
1998.21
Sugimoto is one of a number of twentieth-century artists who have explored photography as a conceptual art form.  An idea initiates each series.  Over the past thirty years, he has worked on only a handful of subjects including movie theaters and landscapes. Time is also central to the Seascapes.  Sugimoto pondered, “what would be the most unchanged scene on the surface of the earth?”
Art, as well as life, informs the Seascapes.  From a distance they could be abstract paintings that explore variations on formal issues: balancing dark and light and top and bottom, or the nuances of whites, grays and blacks.  But, as Sugimoto suggests, “people get hypnotized comparing the images.  As you get closer to them you become aware of very subtle patterns of waves, and the quality of the air.”  It is impossible for us to divorce the photograph’s derivation in the real world from its formal and conceptual content.  Are his photographs illusion or abstraction?  Object or concept?  For Sugimoto, the answer is a Zen-like yes.
  
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Online Collection paid for with a grant from
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