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Hiroshi Sugimoto

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About Alumni Awards

The Alumni Awards provide an opportunity for ArtCenter to publicly recognize the talent, service and influence of our alumni.

2021 Alumni Awards

Hiroshi Sugimoto, Lifetime Achievement Award

Hiroshi Sugimoto (BFA 74 Photography) is an internationally renowned artist, photographer and architect whose esoteric practice has explored and redefined human concepts of perception, space, time and light. In so doing, Sugimoto has altered our understanding of history and the nature of existence itself. 

His artworks have been exhibited around the world, from the Guggenheim to the Smithsonian to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo.

Hiroshi Sugimoto

Sugimoto places extraordinary value on artistry and expression, printing his photographs with meticulous attention to detail.




Sugimoto was born in Tokyo in 1948. He moved to the United States in 1970 to study photography at ArtCenter. While at the College, Sugimoto acquired and polished the fine photographic skills that have become his hallmark. He places extraordinary value on artistry and expression, printing his photographs with meticulous attention to detail. 

The dioramas of 1976 were the first works to bring Sugimoto international acclaim. He photographed diorama displays in natural history museums so that they appeared to be documentary photographs of nature. Sugimoto was using photography to question the assumption that the camera never lies—closer examination revealed a different truth. 

In 1980, Sugimoto began an ongoing series, photographing the sea and its horizon. Although made in locations all over the world, the black-and-white seascapes are all exactly the same. Size and composition divided exactly in half by the horizon line. The wildness and power of nature abstracted and reduced to pure geometry.

In his Lightning Fields Series, Sugimoto abandoned the use of the camera entirely. Instead, choosing to produce images using an electrical generator to apply a charge directly to the film surface.

In 2009, Sugimoto established the Ottawa Art Foundation to foster the advancement of traditional and modern Japanese culture. The New Material Research Laboratory (NMRL), Sugimoto's architectural firm, aims to develop new materials for construction based upon ancient Japanese materials and techniques, all in the context of a distinctly contemporary design sensibility.

Sugimoto's creative output is driven by goals outside of himself. His works consistently question conventional meaning and attract. Through visual delight, Sugimoto has been able to anticipate and envision the future to discover what's yet to come. Confident and fearless, it leads with curiosity and empathy.