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Contemporary German Photography

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Oct 14, 2005

It seems that with such limited subject matter as the human face, there is only so much you can do as a photographer if you want to take portraits. Not so! Just have a look at Melanie Wiora’s utterly stunning Aussen ist in mir series to see what I mean. These photos are what you’d get if you took away all that Hallmarky whimsicalness from Loretta Lux’s work.
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Oct 14, 2005

Monika Czosnowska’s series “Novices” contains quite a few photos that reminded me of classic Dutch paintings. Impressive!
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Oct 2, 2005

Burkhard Schittny digitally manipulates his photographs. I’m not sure I like all the different results, but I’m very impressed by his “Bacon” series.
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Sep 5, 2005

Check out Marco Bohr’s work, in particular “No Ball Games”.
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Sep 2, 2005

I was a bit too lazy to translate this nice article about the Bechers in its entirety, but fortunately an English version now appeared at sign and sight.
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Aug 24, 2005

This is from a review: “Thomas Ruff [student of Bernd Becher], known for his deadpan portraits and gorgeous views of the night sky and architecture, is one of Germany’s leading contemporary artist/photographers. Among his recent work is an exploration of the internet, that parallel visual universe teeming with sexuality of every flavor and variety. He gathers from that virtual playground erotic and often pornographic photographs that he subsequently manipulates in his computer, making beautiful — and disturbing — artwork from visual material that, for better or worse, is probably more abundant than any other type of image in our world today.” Vulgo: For his “Nudes” project Thomas Ruff downloaded pornography (thumbnails) from the internet and then Photoshop’ed it (them). Samples here. Here is a snippet from another review: “Significantly, Ruff uses no camera or traditional photographic device in the production of these images, a process in which every step, from sourcing through manipulation to printing, is purely digital. Both literally and figuratively blurring the distinctions between pornography and formalist nude photography, Ruff also enhances the artificial atmosphere of the tiny ‘originals’ by boosting their image size exponentially. In the process, each image becomes disengaged from its source, forcing the subject into the background, and prioritizing its formal and aesthetic value. By altering these publicly accessible and starkly aggressive images as he does, Ruff simultaneously returns to them a sense of dignity and beauty, while heightening an awareness of representation’s own manipulative promises and illusions.” Lately, Thomas Ruff has been expanding this ansatz by re-working (or should we call it re-mixing?) other images pulled from the web. Check out this page (and subsequent pages) for some samples. Note that you have to click on the thumbnails to see what he has done, as the thumbnails do not reflect the work at all. I find these works very interesting, and I’m curious to see where this will lead us. How many other people will pick this up? I’m also sure there will be many “Oh, I could do that” comments. I personally find this whole process quite promising. (Updated post)
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Aug 18, 2005

Thorsten Schimmel’s architectural photography, especially Silentium, is quite exquisit.
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Aug 18, 2005

Martin Schoeller is one of the most popular commercial portrait photographers.
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Aug 15, 2005

Using limited depth-of-field and slightly surreal colours, Marc Räder’s photography investigates the environments we choose to live in and vacation in.
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Aug 4, 2005

Check out Theo Barth’s Impressionen aus Shanghai. It’s interesting to see how his photos show very clearly our Western cultural bias: Modernity is seen as something awe inspiring, and all the problems that we’re increasingly struggling with don’t appear to be relevant.
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Jul 20, 2005

Holger Niehaus is a photographer who I just had to link to. It took me quite a while to find anything, though. I first came across his work when I saw this photo in Harper’s magazine. Unfortunately, his work is very hard to find online. I found another, equally amazing still life here.
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Jul 18, 2005

Maybe you need to be a foreign photographer to find the essence of a country. Peter Granser’s “Sun City” certainly finds the quirkiness of American life - something local photographers never quite get to. Additional photography can be found under “Download” and then “Personal Projects”. Each project comes as a pdf. You definitely don’t want to miss “Alzheimer’s Disease”, which includes some stunning portraits. (slightly updated post)
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Jul 16, 2005

Markus Burke’s portfolio contains some interesting commercial/editorial work.
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Jul 12, 2005

Most people are probably not aware of the fact that the web is not a fair representation of the photographic world. I often find interesting photographers or images in magazines and then fail to find anything online. Robert Adams is another example for this. There isn’t really much more than a few images here and a longish bio there. Update (13 July): There also are some photos here
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Jul 6, 2005

Photojournalist Kai Wiedenhöfer won a 2005 Euro Press Photo Awards in Germany - section architecture! - for his photos of Israel’s separation barrier wall.
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May 5, 2005

If you’re a photographer chances are the following has happened to you: You think about a good project, and just before you get to start it you find somebody else has already done it. Enters Henrik Spohler whose “0/1 Dataflow” (filed under “Projekte”) shows the interior architecture of supercomputer centers. Very beautiful!
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May 4, 2005

As regular visitors will certainly be aware of, my friend Tobias Hegele has for quite some time provided links to interesting photography.
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May 3, 2005

Josef Schulz (also see this page) studied with Bernd Becher and Thomas Ruff. Doesn’t it show? I really like how the two schools almost blend perfectly here.
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May 3, 2005

Natascha Borowsky spends a lot of time collecting what most people would call trash and then taking photos of it. It’s not hard to see who influenced her work. More samples here, here, and here.
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Apr 25, 2005

Katja Stuke is the other half of Die Böhm im Netz. See her portraits for something entirely different: Shot directly off a TV set during the Olympics. Make sure you’ll check out all the other stuff, English translations are typically given at the bottom of the pages. My favourite: My personal Hitchcock
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Apr 25, 2005

Oliver Sieber has been working on series of portraits, which remind me of Thomas Ruff’s early portraits. Also see Die Böhm im Netz, a large photo project/magazine he has been working on.
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Mar 31, 2005

Unfortunately, Gunter Klötzer’s website only contains German text. That means that many people will not be able to understand the explanations for his projects (“Portfolio”), which contain a series of photo portraying his mother fighting cancer (“Diagnose Krebs”) or his wonderful portrait of Slovenija. However, for one of his projects, “Germans in Amercia”, there is a separate website. Says its abstract “‘Germans in America’ introduces people at the intersection of both worlds who look behind the scenes and stereotypes, and inevitably witness cataclysmic political and social shifts.” Given that you (if you’re a regular visitor of this weblog) are somewhat acquainted with at least one German living in the US, why don’t you have a look at some other ones?
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Mar 30, 2005

Jens Sundheim’s portfolio contains a set of interesting projects, such as Summerlin, a photographic portrait of one of those American neo-Orwellian planned communities of the same name near Las Vegas or Poundbury, a British equivalent of Summerlin. He is also part of the project Der Reisende (The Traveller), where webcams are used to replace standard cameras as tools to document journeys.
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Mar 24, 2005

Purists might feel like debating whether Karl-Martin Holzhäuser should be considered photography or not. Using photographic paper and light, Karl-Martin Holzhäuser produces what you could call contact prints of materials other than negatives.
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Mar 17, 2005

Volker Schrank’s portfolio contains a bunch of fairly interesting series. My favourites might be his portraits of German newscaster (“Stars der Wahrheit”), each one portrayed in an absurdly heroic pose with gaudy colours (you get the impression they were not too uncomfortable posing that way - why are newscasters always such pretentious, pompous fellows?), and his series from Cuba (“Vorwärts und nicht vergessen”). His dyptich portraits are also very nice.
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Mar 16, 2005

When viewing Gudrun Kemsa’s photos it is not too surprising to learn she is doing video work, too.
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Mar 14, 2005

Dirk Brömmel produces very large photos of ships, taken from above the ship.
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Mar 10, 2005

Michael Pfisterer’s website has evolved from having tiny thumbnails to, well, huge images plus scrollbar - that’s an improvement.
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Mar 10, 2005

I think taking portraits is probably the most difficult kind of photography you can do. You would imagine there is only so much you can do when you take a portrait, but the possibilities are endless - as are the difficulties. In any case, when I found Bettina von Zwehl’s work for the first time, I was quite impressed.
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Mar 8, 2005

German photographer Andreas Meichsner has done a series of interesting projects. My favourite is probably his Dutch dream houses.
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Mar 2, 2005

Candida Höfer, who studied photography with Bernd and Hilla Becher at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, represented Germany at the 2004 biennale in Venice. Find more samples (and some text) here, here and here (this one is in German). (this is an updated re-post)
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Feb 25, 2005

It’s easy to see where Robert Voit polished his skills - he’s a Ruff student. (this is an updated post)
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Nov 25, 2004

Achim Lippoth is a commercial photographer who has quite a few gems in his editorial portfolio. Also don’t miss his photos of young Chinese athletes.
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Nov 25, 2004

“The focus lay on the identity of the individual in relation to his or her nationality and history, but also in the light of prejudices and clich駸. Starting with generalisations such as ‘typically German’ through to the absolute denial of national identity such as ‘Iï½´m not German, Iï½´m me’, more reflective and nuanced tones gradually appeared. After this the individual participants devoted themselves in photographic terms to their chosen aspect of the subject.” - from the description of the show
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Nov 15, 2004

Anne Schwalbe is a German photographer whose melancholic landscapes remind me of where I grew up.
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Nov 5, 2004

I’m quite impressed by Thomas Zika’s series Bathers. Starting with holiday catalogues, Thomas Zika re-works the photos found therein to create these weird, almost monochrome images (description of the project).
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Oct 31, 2004

The general emptiness and yuckiness of Oliver Boberg’s photos are real - the locations aren’t. Those buildings are all card-board models. Impressive!
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Oct 30, 2004

Claudia Fährenkemper photographs are enlarged photomicrographs. I’m not sure I’d want to have a photo of an insect in my living room, though. In any case, the photos are quite impressive to look at.
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Oct 22, 2004

Christian Gieraths is a Düsseldorf art academy alumnus.
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Oct 4, 2004

Check out Frank Thiel’s excellent photography. More here. Oh, those Germans with all their Sachlichkeit!
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Sep 24, 2004

Bettina Flitner is a photojournalist and filmmaker with a fairly large portfolio of interesting projects. Oddly enough, the navigation system is in English but the text comes up in German. So all those who don’t understand German can only look at the photos and will miss the context.
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Sep 22, 2004

Have a look at Dirk Wilhelmy’s architectural photography.
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Sep 17, 2004

Michael Danner’s projects contain photos from all over the world. Looking for the mundane really has its charms.
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Sep 16, 2004

David Klammer’s website unfortunately is fully accessible for German speakers. Those who don’t understand German can still browse, though - they won’t be able to get the background behind those “Reportage” stories, though.
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Jul 20, 2004

Thomas Demand takes photos of scenes that he builds from cardboard, coloured paper, and glue (article). Also see the page for his big MOMA show.
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Jul 7, 2004

Another emerging German talent: Alexandra Pfitzner. Not to be missed is her “Diploma” series (done to graduate from the Munich School for Photo Design) that shows border posts/crossings in Germany (yes, Germany has that many neighbours).
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Jul 2, 2004

Jens Knigge’s platinum-palladium prints are quite nice. I’m sure they must be impressive when you see them hanging on the wall
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Jun 24, 2004

If I had the money I would buy one of the photos from Nathalie Grenzhaeuser’s series Omaha Beach (which has now disappeared from her website).
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Jun 24, 2004

Sonja Braas’ new work Forces fascinates me on many different levels. Her older work is, I think, hard to look at on the computer screen: These images of museums of natural history or zoology don’t come across well when presented as small sample images.
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Jun 9, 2004

Andreas Magdanz’s website features a set of fairly amazing projects. He took photos of the formerly top secret Cold War underground bunker of the federal German government. And then there are his colour photos from Auschwitz. I can’t remember whether I’ve ever seen colour photos from there; usually, people seem to prefer b/w. It’s tempting to use b/w to increase the starkness of the place. But it also creates some sort of additional separation - beyond the mere geographical and historical ones. I think I never really knew what the place looked like even though I had seen those b/w photos. Seeing it in colour is quite an experience.
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