Hiroshi Sugimoto began his four-decade-long series Dioramas in 1974, inspired by a trip to the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Surrounded by the museum’s elaborate, naturalistic dioramas, Sugimoto realized that the scenes jumped to life when looked at with one eye closed. Recreated forestry and stretches of uninhabited land, wild, crouching animals against painted backgrounds and even prehistoric humans seemed entirely convincing with this visual trick, which launched a conceptual exploration of the photographic medium that has traversed his entire career. Focusing his camera on individual dioramas as though they were entirely surrounding scenes, omitting their frames and educational materials and ensuring that no reflections enter the shot, his subjects appear as if photographed in their natural habitats. He also explores the power of photography to create history—in his own words, “photography functions as a fossilization of time.” Hiroshi Sugimoto: Dioramas narrates a story of the cycle of life, death and rebirth, from prehistoric aquatic life to the propagation of reptile and animal life to Homo sapiens’ destruction of the earth, circling back to its renewal, where flora and fauna flourish without man. Here Sugimoto writes his own history of the world, an artist’s creation myth.
Hiroshi Sugimoto: Dioramas
About the Author
Hiroshi Sugimoto (born 1948) has exhibited extensively in major museums and galleries throughout the world, and his work is held in numerous public collections, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; National Gallery, London; National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; Smithsonian, Washington, DC; and Tate, London, among others. Sugimoto divides his time between Tokyo and New York City.