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01 Jun 2017

Photographs Become Pictures: The Becher Class

Städel Museum

Reviewed by Vera Wilde

Photos rarely achieve the depth of color, perspective, and texture that makes some paintings - like Turner’s seascapes - fun to stare at for hours. But as its title claims, some of the photos in this showcase of the first Becher Class at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf become pictures. The view of a dense jungle from above appears almost abstract (Axel Hütte, La Puerta, Venezuela, 1998). The night sky as viewed from the European Southern Observatory photo archives sparkles with depth (Thomas Ruff, 17h 30m/-20 degree (Stars), 1992).

With subjectivity comes deception. Some works on display intentionally and obviously manipulate photographic images. In principle, the effect might be to transport viewers to a world of new possibilities. In practice, the manipulations displayed fail to transfigure. Jörg Sasse's 5671 (1996) could represent a dust storm in Iraq; but it merely shows retouched flats in doctored fog. Photos can become pictures; but in the age of fake news, should they?

Exhibition Photographs Become Pictures: The Becher Class link
Start date 27 Apr 2017
End date 13 Aug 2017 (9 days ago)
Presenter Städel Museum link
Venue Schaumainkai 63, Frankfurt am Main, DEU map
Image Jörg Sasse, 1546, 1993, chromogenic color print , 137 x 200 cm, private collection, © Jörg Sasse, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017, courtesy of the Städel Museum
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