Boden Sea, Uttwil,

Hiroshi Sugimoto Japanese

Conceptual and perceptual richness, impeccable craftmanship, and minimalism—these qualities of twelfth-century Japanese painting inspire Sugimoto and characterize his work, especially the seascapes. Since 1980 the artist has traveled the world to stand on remote cliffs overlooking the ocean. Sugimoto is not interested in boats, bathers or spectacular sunsets but rather in the particularity of light and atmosphere in any specific region and in the way those effects play in front of the horizon, which always precisely bisects his frame.


The horizon is central to Sugimoto's work; it describes the contact between Earth's surface and the ether and is also a metaphor for the bounds of our mental and visual perception. Viewed in a group, the photographs align along the horizon, suggesting the continuity of its compass while revealing endless variations. Rippling tides, luminous haze, shredding mists, windswept air—these aspects in the shifting envelopes of air and water covering the earth have the featureless purity of the world's first day. The depth of field within each picture is as far as the eye can see. This visual approximation of the infinite is an apt expression of the sublime for an age that has forgotten that such majesty exists on a shrinking and polluted planet.

Not on view

Public Domain

Boden Sea, Uttwil

Artist: Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japanese, born Tokyo, 1948)

Date: 1993

Medium: Gelatin silver print

Dimensions: 42.3 x 54.2 cm (16 5/8 x 21 5/16 in.)

Classification: Photographs

Credit Line: Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1994

Accession Number: 1994.144.8

Rights and Reproduction: © Hiroshi Sugimoto

Artist; [Sonnabend Gallery, New York]

No. 3 from an edition of 25.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Sugimoto".

Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. "Earth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art–Masterpieces from the Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 6, 2012–January 4, 2013.

National Museum of China. "Earth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art–Masterpieces from the Metropolitan Museum of Art," February 8, 2013–May 9, 2013.

Barnet, Peter, and Atsuyuki Nakahara. Earth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art: Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Tokyo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. no. 89, pp. 145, 245.

Hiroshi Sugimoto (20)
Asia (71,009)
Japan (22,746)