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Hiroshi Sugimoto: Photogenic Drawings

Fraenkel Gallery is pleased to present a major new body of work by Hiroshi Sugimoto. Inspired by the earliest photographic experiments of William Henry Fox Talbot, the 19th century inventor who developed the negative-positive process, Sugimoto refers to his newest pictures using Talbot’s own term, Photogenic Drawings.

Working from Talbot’s original paper negatives, Sugimoto’s vastly enlarged prints are arresting in their detail and atmosphere. The artist’s collaboration with Talbot encompasses the panoply of subject matter that has formed the backbone of photographic history—still-lifes, landscapes, architectural views, and portraits.

By returning to, and enlarging, these traces from the origins of photography, Sugimoto’s Photogenic Drawings re-examine the magical effects of these first ‘drawings with light’.

I decided to collect Fox Talbot’s earliest negatives, from a time in photographic history very likely before positive images existed. Most early Fox Talbot negatives languish in dark museum collection vaults, hidden from public view. Negatives predating any reliable method of fixing the image are always in danger of changing if exposed to the slightest light. I, however, had to take that risk to return to the very origins of photography. With fear and trepidation, I set about this task like an archaeological explorer excavating an ancient dynastic tomb. — Hiroshi Sugimoto, 2008

Hiroshi Sugimoto (b. 1948) has lived and worked in New York City since 1974. His work has been the subject of solo and group exhibitions worldwide. In 2006, the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C. and the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo organized Hiroshi Sugimoto, a mid-career retrospective that travelled extensively. His work is in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Art Institute of Chicago; and Tate Modern, London, among others. He is the recipient of many awards including the Praemium Imperiale for painting (2009); the Hasselblad Foundation Award (2001); and the ICP Infinity Award for Art (1999). Monographs include: Time Exposed (1991); Sea of Buddha (1997); Sugimoto: In Praise of Shadows (1998); Theaters (2000); and The Nature of Light (2009).