Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Jekyll and Hyde year

Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Jekyll and Hyde year

Hiroshi Sugimoto laughs. He laughs a lot. On a Zoom call from Tokyo, the 73-year-old artist laughs at his first reaction to the avant-garde while living in New York in the 1970s: “It’s a very twisted-mind art, so this kind of twisted mind — it can be applied to myself! I’m the same kind of animal!” On a dime, he turned from working in commercial photography to his own “twisted-mind” conceptual photos that went on to make him famous: dramatic shots of animals in the wild that turn out to show stuffed beasts in museum vitrines; photos of Madame Tussauds waxworks that look alive — but also seem to depict sculptures or other photographs. “My art has a kind of punchline at the end,” Sugimoto says. He laughs at a Japanese identity he says he had to learn during years living in the United States because Americans kept dwelling on his origins in Japan: “I’m trying to be as Japanese as possible. I’m playing my Japaneseness.”
Hiroshi Sugimoto laughs. He laughs a lot. On a Zoom call from Tokyo, the 73-year-old artist laughs at his first reaction to the avant-garde while living in New York in the 1970s: “It’s a very twisted-mind art, so this kind of twisted mind — it can be applied to myself! I’m the same kind of animal!” On a dime, he turned from working in commercial photography to his own “twisted-mind” conceptual photos that went on to make him famous: dramatic shots of animals in the wild that turn out to show stuffed beasts in museum vitrines; photos of Madame Tussauds waxworks that look alive — but also seem to depict sculptures or other photographs. “My art has a kind of punchline at the end,” Sugimoto says. He laughs at a Japanese identity he says he had to learn during years living in the United States because Americans kept dwelling on his origins in Japan: “I’m trying to be as Japanese as possible. I’m playing my Japaneseness.”