Polar Bear

Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japanese, born Tokyo, 1948)
Gelatin silver print
42.1 x 55.3 cm (16 9/16 x 21 3/4 in.)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Charina Foundation Inc. Gift, 1984
Accession Number:
Rights and Reproduction:
© Hiroshi Sugimoto
Not on view
When Sugimoto first arrived in New York in 1974, he was fascinated by the dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History. "I made a curious discovery," he later recalled. "The stuffed animals positioned before painted backdrops looked utterly fake, yet by taking a quick peek with one eye closed, all perspective vanished, and suddenly they looked very real. I'd found a way to see the world as a camera does. However fake the subject, once photographed, it's as good as real." Using careful framing, long exposure times, and a large view camera for clarity of detail, Sugimoto heightens the illusionism of the dioramas themselves, creating exquisite effigies of a natural world on the verge disappearing.
Inscription: Inscribed in pencil on the print, verso BRC: "polar bear 1976 Hiroshi Sugimoto 2/25"; BRC: "son"
Sonnabend Gallery

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Photographs: A Decade of Collecting," June 5, 2001–September 4, 2001.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Modern Photographs from the Collection XIV," May 15, 2007–September 30, 2007.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Reality Check: Truth and Illusion in Contemporary Photography," November 4, 2008–March 22, 2009.

McShine, Kynaston. The Museum as Muse: Artists Reflect. New York: Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1999. pp. 102–105.

No. 2 in an edition of 25. Taken at the Museum of Natural History, New York City.