Blurring the hard edges of Modernism, Sugimoto’s photography reasserts photography’s status as artwork
Hiroshi Sugimoto is famous for his postconceptual photography, which adopts the serial presentation pioneered by 1970s artists like Ed Ruscha while rejecting the anti-aesthetic impulse of such work; the technical sophistication and tonal richness of his images triumphantly reasserts the photograph’s status as artwork. This ghostly image of the World Trade Center (1997) is from his series of unfocused images of Modernist architecture which looks back to the works of early 20th-century Pictorialists, such as Edward Steichen’s famous 1904 image of the Flatiron Building. Following their lead, Sugimoto blurs the hard edges of his High- Modernist subjects, undermining their rationality and that of his supposedly objective medium. His photographs are on display for the Venice Biennale at Palazzetto Tito until 12 October; meanwhile an architectural project of Sugimoto’s, ‘Glass Tea House Mondrian’, can be visited at the Stanze del Vetro on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore.