March 29, 2007 - Villa Manin Centre for Contemporary Art - Hiroshi Sugimoto
March 29, 2007

Hiroshi Sugimoto

Napoleon Bonapart, 1999, copyright Hiroshi Sugimoto

Hiroshi Sugimoto
1st April-30th September 2007

Curated by: Francesco Bonami

Villa Manin Centre for
Contemporary Art
Passariano, Codroipo (Udine) Italy
Tel: 39 0432 821211
Fax: 39 0432 908387

info [​at​]

Villa Manin Centre for Contemporary Art announces the opening on April 1st 2007 of the first large-scale exhibition in Italy dedicated to Hiroshi Sugimoto, one of the most important photographers on the international contemporary art scene.

The show, curated by Francesco Bonami, brings together fifty large-scale photographic works and two sculptures by the Japanese artist.

The great variety of works presented touches on all the themes of the artists work, from the first Dioramas in 1975 to the series Theaters, Seascapes, Portraits, Conceptual forms, up to the new projects Lightning Field and Talbot.

Strongly inspired by the conceptual and minimalist tradition, Hiroshi Sugimotos works deal with the idea of photography and deny its limits and definitions. As Francesco Bonami says: Sugimotos work is a search into the origins of History, be this the zoological history of the earth or that of human actions, seen, symbolically, through the passing of time inside the camera lens and by using film as the surface of memory.

The artist, impressed on his very first visit to Villa Manin by the seventeenth century building which will host the show, has conceived the entire installation plan creating, between his works and the exhibition spaces, a series of references and allusions which can be apparent but also more subtle, as to involve the visitor in a mental game that unravels through the various rooms. An example of this is the bedroom on the ground floor the one that Napoleon used to sleep in when he chose Villa Manin as his headquarters for a new redefinition of Europe. In this very room the photograph Napoleon Bonapart is displayed, a work belonging to the series Portraits, through which the artist portrays historical figures and contemporary personalities. All the photographs of this theme group have been taken by isolating and illuminating on black backdrops wax statues present in various museums, thus emphasizing the reference to the models by which they are inspired, such as the paintings by Jacques-Louis David and Hans Holbein.

Hiroshi Sugimoto has been extremely respectful of the exhibition spaces, unveiling the walls and frescoes of the dogal residence: a few photographs – placed on simple easels designed by the artist himself – characterise each room, with the exception of the one that combines, almost like a family reunion, Henry VIII and the portraits of his unfortunate wives.

Throughout this retrospective all the various series can be encountered, such as the Dioramas, that are characterised by scenes of primitive life taken in natural history museums and that disorientate the viewer, who is used to associate a certain type of documentary photography with the reproduction of reality; or the series entitled Theaters, taken in cinema-theatres of the Twenties and Thirties such as the Radio City Music Hall in New York and the Metropolitan Theatre in Los Angeles. Here Sugimoto tried to condense the flow of time and the perception of space into a single moment, levelling out the exposure time and that of the duration of the film projection. The white and bright rectangle that derives from it illuminates the otherwise dark room and contains the traces of a longer unit of time. Time is also the protagonist of the series Seascapes, where water and air meet exactly halfway in the image, in the attempt to recreate the first, absolute vision of the sea experienced by the ancient explorers.

The desire to test his ability to reproduce the non representable has lead the artist, over the years, to confront tangible models in order to express theoretical and spiritual concepts, such as the curved surfaces of Conceptual Forms that represent numerical formulae.

With the use of sophisticated games of illusions and references, Sugimoto pushes the viewer to actively confront the image and the ambiguous weave between time and memory that it communicates.

Exhibition details


Curated by: Francesco Bonami

Dates: 1st of April 30th September 2007

Venue: Villa Manin Centre for Contemporary Art
Piazza Manin 10, Passariano, 33033 Codroipo (UD), Italy

Opening hours: from 1st April 3rd June 2007, Tuesday – Friday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
from 5th June 30th September 2007, Tuesday Sunday 10a.m. 8 p.m.
Closed Mondays

For information: Tel: 39 0432 821211 Fax: 39 0432908387

Villa Manin Centre for Contemporary Art
Share - Hiroshi Sugimoto
  • Share
Click to subscribe to e-flux and be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements
Subscribe to e-flux
Be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements.
Subscribe to architecture
Explore the most recent content from e-flux architecture and urbanism
Subscribe to e-flux programs
Keep up-to-date on all upcoming talks, screenings, and exhibitions at e-flux in New York