This exhibition is the first U.S. presentation of Sugimoto’s The Last Supper: Acts of God (1999/2012), a five-panel photograph, more than 24 feet in length. The artist first created this work in 1999, from a life-size wax reproduction of Leonardo’s The Last Supper, which he photographed at a museum in Izu, Japan. In 2012, while the work was stored in the artist’s basement, it was damaged by the storm surge and flooding that occurred when Hurricane Sandy hit New York City. Sugimoto chose to retain the dramatic marks, colorations and ripples that have changed the character of the photograph. He commented:
I chose to interpret this as the invisible hand of God coming down to bring my monumental, but unfinished Last Supper to completion. Leonardo completed his Last Supper over five hundred years ago, and it has deteriorated beautifully. I can only be grateful to the storm for putting my work through a half-millennium’s worth of stresses in so short a time.
Gallery II also will feature a single work, Sea of Galilee, Golan, 1992, a black-and-white seascape with a quietly undulating surface and a nebulous horizon. This is the sea on which Jesus is said to have walked—one of the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels. Gallery III will present five large-format prints from Sugimoto’s most recent series, In Praise of Shadows. Each photograph is an extreme close-up of a single candle flame, whose flickering white heat seems to sear the paper.
Hiroshi Sugimoto (b. 1948, Tokyo, Japan) lives and works in New York and Japan. Among his series are Seascapes, Theaters, Dioramas, Portraits (of wax figures), Architecture, Lightning Fields, and Photogenic Drawings. His work is in the collections of the Tate Gallery, London; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; and Foundation Cartier, Paris, among many others. In 2013 he received the decoration of Officier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French government. His work is currently the subject of a solo exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, on view through June 8, 2014.