Home / News / Art




GoSee Recommendation : Painting in Photography. Strategies of Appropriation. the documented influence of painting on contemporary photography at Städel Museum Frankfurt and the book published by Kehrer Verlag

This exploration of the influences between photography and painting is only on display at Frankfurt’s Städel Museum for a few more days. So thank goodness for the exhibition catalogue published by Kehrer Verlag. GoSee presents a preview as well as an insight of the informative interpretations…

Based on the museum’s own collection and including important loans from the DZ Bank Kunstsammlung as well as international private collections and galleries, the exhibition at the Städel will center on about 60 examples, among them major works by László Moholy-Nagy, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Wolfgang Tillmans, Thomas Ruff, Jeff Wall, and Amelie von Wulffen.

It explores the reflection of painting in the photographic image by pursuing various artistic strategies of appropriation which have one thing in common: they reject the general expectation held about photography that it will document reality in an authentic way.
Early examples for the adaption of techniques of painting in photography are László Moholy-Nagy’s (1895– 1946) photograms dating from the 1920s. For his photographs shot without a camera, the Hungarian artist and Bauhaus teacher arranged objects on a sensitized paper; these objects left concrete marks as supposedly abstract forms under the influence of direct sunlight.
In Otto Steinert’s (1915–1978) nonrepresentational light drawings or ‘luminigrams,’ the photographer’s movement inscribed itself directly into the sensitized film. The pictures correlate with the gestural painting of Jackson Pollock’s Abstract Expressionism.
A product of random operations during the exposure and development of the photographic paper, Wolfgang Tillmans’ (*1968) work ‘Freischwimmer 54’ (2004) is equally far from representing the external world.
It is the pictures’ fictitious depth, transparency, and dynamics that lend Thomas Ruff’s photographic series ‘Substrat’ its extraordinary painterly quality recalling color field paintings or Informel works. For his series “Seascapes” the Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto (*1948) seems to have “emptied” the motif through a long exposure time: the sublime pictures of the surface of the sea and the sky – which either blur or are set off against each other – seem to transcend time and space.
The fictitious landscape pictures by Beate Gütschow (*1970), which consist of digitally assembled fragments, recall ideal Arcadian sceneries of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
The photographs taken by Italian Luigi Ghirri (1943–1992) in the studio of Giorgio Morandi (1890– 1964) ‘copy’ Morandi’s still lifes by representing the real objects in the painter’s studio instead of his paintings.
The exhibition was developed in cooperation with Frankfurt’s Goethe-Universität on the occasion of a seminar offered by Dr. Henning Engelke, Dr. Martin Engler, and Carolin Köchling at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in the winter semester 2011/2012. The accompanying catalogue will feature text contributions by the seminar participants.

Städel Museum
Städelsches Kunstinstitut
Dürerstraße 2
60596 Frankfurt am Main