Hiroshi Sugimoto: Art Begets Art
"...as a sculptor Serra does not have to compromise like an architect; Joe is his idealized vision. Thus the sculpture is a representation of pure form for us both." - Hiroshi Sugimoto
Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Joe #2134 depicts the majestic torqued spiral sculpture by Richard Serra of the same title. The sculpture is named after Joseph Pulitzer Jr., among the earliest of Serra’s patrons, and in fact, the first patron to commission a large scale outdoors piece, still exhibited at the courtyard of the Pulitzer Foundation of the Arts in St. Louis. Of that commission Serra has noted, "[it] was the first big landscape [piece] I built in my life. It was one of the most significant pieces I’ve ever made, still remains that for me, and it started me. I wouldn’t have made what I made without Joe."
Sugimoto had originally intended to take photographs of the Pulitzer building, which was designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, whose work he had portrayed before. However, he focused his lens on Richard Serra’s Joe. As he had done in other architectural series, Sugimoto chose a soft focus. By doing so, he removed the specificity of the work and reduced it to its most essential characteristics - line, scale and movement. Indeed, the view proffered by the image - two opposing sweeping curves engulfing the frame in its near entirety - is imperial and commanding, rejecting the experience yielded by directly interacting with the sculpture, and, as some would claim, of being in the presence of Serra's late, beloved patron.