The J. Paul Getty Museum

Polar Bear

Object Details

Title:

Polar Bear

Artist/Maker:

Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japanese, born 1948)

Culture:

Japanese

Place:

United States (Place Created)

Date:

1976

Medium:

Gelatin silver print

Object Number:

2013.36.5

Dimensions:

42.1 × 54.6 cm (16 9/16 × 21 1/2 in.)

Copyright:

© Hiroshi Sugimoto

Credit Line:

Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council

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Object Description

I made a curious discovery while looking at the exhibition of animal dioramas: 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 had found a way to see the world as a camera does.
--Hiroshi Sugimoto

Hiroshi Sugimoto first encountered the elaborate animal dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History after moving to New York in 1974. Omitting the didactic materials surrounding each display, images in the series "Dioramas"--produced between 1975 and 1999--heighten the illusion that the animals were photographed in their natural habitats.

Surely Sugimoto was aware of the incredible history the diorama, which includes a connection to the medium of photography. The stage designer Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, who later developed the daguerreotype photographic process, introduced the diorama in Paris in 1822.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
Hiroshi Sugimoto: Past Tense (February 4 to June 8, 2014)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), February 4 to June 8, 2014
Bibliography
Bibliography

Sugimoto, Hiroshi. Photographs by Hiroshi Sugimoto: dioramas, theaters, seascapes (Japan: Mitsumura, 1988), unpaginated.

McShine, Kynaston. The Museum as Muse: Artists Reflect (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1999), p. 103.

Brougher, Kerry and David Elliott, Hiroshi Sugimoto (New York: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2005), p. 70.