Hiroshi Sugimoto, ‘Lake Superior, Cascade River’, 1995, Phillips

Property of an Important European Collector

From the Catalogue:
With its majestic and soulful blackness, Lake Superior, Cascade River is an enthralling composition of the infinitesimal nature of two of life’s building blocks – water and air. Infinite ripples roll along the surface, the inky blackness of the lake stretches out into the distance to meet the dark moonless night sky along a gentle glimpse of the horizon line. Using his old-fashioned large-format camera, coupled with a prolonged exposure, Sugimoto creates a still lake surface undisturbed by the inconsistencies of a distinct moment and smoothed out by the permanence of time, successfully collapsing any of the associations of immediacy and instantaneity within the nature of photography.

Beginning his series of Seascapes in 1980, Sugimoto photographed bodies of water across the world within a consistently minimal visual composition. Framing each vista to contain solely water and sky, as much as they may seem to be geographical depictions, they are instead a meditation on time through distilling onto film the qualities of light, air, water and atmosphere. Removing any focus on the physical attributes of the sea and focusing on the substances that gave rise to life – water and air, Sugimoto attempts to evoke 'something primordial or from a timeless future, elemental presented at the child-like moment of discovery, as yet unnamed but at the very moment man must name it' (Kerry Brougher, ‘Hiroshi Sugimoto: Memories in Black and White’, Sugimoto, exh. cat., Sala de Exposiciones de la Fundación ‘la Caixa’, Barcelona, 1998, p. 134), untethered from any allusions to human presence or Earthly existence.

His ability to bridge the notions of the real with the 'unreal' through the medium of photography is wonderfully encapsulated in this lot. Having a rich exhibition history where it has previously been installed in Madrid, Lisbon, London, and Tokyo, this work exists as one that is technically accomplished within Sugimoto’s oeuvre.
Courtesy of Phillips

Signature: signed 'H Sugimoto' on the artist studio label affixed to the reverse

Madrid, Sala de Exposiciones de la Fundación 'la Caixa'; Lisbon, Centro Cultural de Belém, Sugimoto, 29 May 1998 - January 24 1999, no. SUG-428 (another example exhibited and illustrated, p. 173)
London, Serpentine Gallery, Hiroshi Sugimoto, 18 November 2003 - 18 January 2004 (another example exhibited)
Tokyo, Mori Art Museum; Washington D.C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Hiroshi Sugimoto, 17 September 2005 - 14 May 2006 (another example exhibited and illustrated, p. 137)
New York, Japan Society Gallery, Hiroshi Sugimoto: History of History,23 September 2005 - 19 February 2006 (another example exhibited)
London, White Cube, Dark Matter, 7 July - 9 September 2006

Gallery Koyanagi, Tokyo
Private Collection
Sotheby's, London, 14 October 2011, lot 43
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

About Hiroshi Sugimoto

To craft his exquisite black-and-white images, Hiroshi Sugimoto uses a 19th-century-style, large-format camera, exploring his idea of photography as a method for preserving and modeling time. “Endeavors in art are…mere approximations, efforts to render visible unseen realms,” he says. Influenced by Surrealism and Dada, Sugimoto's work is intimately connected to Marcel Duchamp, as in his series "Conceptual Forms" (2004), (inspired by Duchamp's The Large Glass, 1923), large-scale black-and-white photographs of mathematical models and tools. Ongoing subjects include dioramas, theaters, Buddhist sculptures, and seascapes—the latter captured in a famous series of near-abstractions, coupled with specific geographic titles. A supreme craftsman, Sugimoto often varies the length of exposure to achieve tonal richness, as in “Joe” (2006), photographs of Richard Serra’s works that function as visual memories more than documentation. “I imagine my vision then try to make it happen, just like painting,” he says. “The reality is there, but how to make it like my reality.”

Japanese, b. 1948, Tokyo, Japan, based in New York, New York