Hiroshi Sugimoto (born 1947 in Tokyo, Japan; lives and works in New York, USA and Tokyo).
Guggenheim, New York (1997); Fagus Shoe Last Factory, Gropius (1998)
A photographic series of blurry shots of famous modernist architecture.
“‘Sugimoto traveled around the world to photograph landmarks of modern architecture—not to document them, but to bring out their solidity, their evocative capacity and their enigmatic presence,’ notes Aaron Betsky, SFMOMA curator of architecture, design and digital projects, who organized the exhibition. Among the other buildings represented are Philippe Starck’s Asahi Breweries, the Fujisawa Municipal Gymnasium by Fumihiko Maki, the United Nations Building by Wallace Harrison et al, William van Alen’s Chrysler Building, the Santelia Monument Como by Giuseppi Terragni, Minoru Yamasaki’s World Trade Center, the Seagram Building by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, E.U.R. San Pietro e Paolo by Marcello Piacentini and Antonio Gaudi’s Casa Batlló II. Sugimoto’s architectural ‘portraits’ were originally commissioned in 1997 by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, for the exhibition ‘At the End of the Century: One Hundred Years of Architecture,’ but the photographer has continued to add to the series.”
—”Hiroshi Sugimoto: The Architecture Series,” San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
“Early-twentieth century Modernism greatly transformed our lives, liberating the human spirit from untold decoration. No longer needing to draw attention from God, all aristocratic attempts at ostentation have fallen away. At last we avail ourselves of mechanical aids far beyond our human powers, attaining the freedom to shape things at will. I decided to trace the beginnings of our age via architecture. Pushing my old large-format camera’s focal length out to twice-infinity—with no stops on the bellows rail, the view through the lens was an utter blur―I discovered that superlative architecture survives, however dissolved, the onslaught of blurred photography. Thus I began erosion-testing architecture for durability, completely melting away many of the buildings in the process.”
—Hiroshi Sugimoto, “Architecture,” website of Hiroshi Sugimoto.