27 silver print mounted on cardboard

53.5 x 43 cm (21 1/16 x 16 15/16 in.) (each)

From Ann Boleyn to Yasser Arafat, Napoleon and Lady Diana, 27 great historical figures with iconic silhouettes emerge from an abstract black background. They are actually wax figures photographed frontally or in three-quarter profile in high-contrast chiaroscuro.

Recalling the canons of Renaissance royal portraits, Hiroshi Sugimoto created a vast gallery of pictures of wax figures in Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in London. Taken out of context, frontally lit and photographed, the illusionistic sculptures gain in drama and veracity. The Japanese artist confers an almost magical virtue on photography. "For me, photography is a kind of time machine,” he says. “I can travel through history and confront it with the future. I can almost bring the dead back to our own world. That's the magic of photography.”

Portraits will be displayed for the first time by the Pinault Collection during the “Au-delà de la couleur” ("Beyond Colour") show at the Couvent des Jacobins in Rennes in June 2021.