Gerrit Engel : New York – Berlin. Photographs / Pinakothek der Moderne, München

Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich

Gerrit Engel : New York – Berlin. Photographs
29.07. > 01.11.2009

Berlin – shaped by the political upheavals of the 20th century like no other city – and Manhattan, New York, the epitome of the big city, metropolis of the Modern Age.

In the photographs of Gerrit Engel these two cliché-laden cities are to be seen in a new, completely unfamiliar light. He focuses on the buildings like a scientist researching exotic beings. Fascinated, yet at the same time with the distance of a scientist. With »vasculum-like dispassion«, but not without affection.

Gerrit Engel

Gerrit Engel
New York, 1793, Rectory of the Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Baley Seton
© Gerrit Engel

Gerrit Engels photographs are portrait studies of houses, each with their own face, that join forces to create a portrait of the entire city – history of the city based on images of its striking, more or less attractive buildings, both large and small, spectacular or merely picturesque. These works form what is, in fact, the very first typology of Manhattan’s architecture and – 20 years after the fall of the Wall – that of Berlin.

Gerrit Engel, who was born in Essen in 1965 and trained as an architect and photographer in Munich and New York, now lives in Berlin. In 1997 he made his highly acclaimed debut with a series of photos of the Buffalo Grain Elevator – taking up a theme once pursued by Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier. In 1999 there followed the series of photographs on Marzahn, Berlin, a selection of which was shown by the Neue Sammlung in 2000 to mark the opening of the Neues Museum of Art and Design in Nuremberg. In 1997 and 1999 some works from both of the series were taken up by Die Neue Sammlung to become part of its permanent collection.

Now, ten years later, the Neue Sammlung is to show the photographer’s most recent works at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich: his Manhattan and Berlin series. For their publication Gerrit Engel ordered the buildings chronologically according to when they were built – a novum in illustrated albums on architecture.

For the exhibition of the Neue Sammlung, which is the photographer’s first major museum exhibition since the presentation in Nuremberg, Gerrit Engel has selected works from both of the series and chosen an installation highlighting inner relationships of architectural history and style rather than the chronological arrangement.

Gerrit Engel

Gerrit Engel
New York, 1913, Woolworth Building
© Gerrit Engel

Gerrit Engel

Gerrit Engel
Berlin, 1977, “Sozialpalast”
© Gerrit Engel

Gerrit Engel

Gerrit Engel
Berlin, 2008, Galeriehaus Hinter dem Gießhaus
© Gerrit Engel

Uniting the two series beyond the magical appeal of the theme itself are the characteristic, soft, milky grey and white shades of the sky. These allow all the details and nuances of colour to stand out in even greater clarity – supposedly secondary aspects such as treetops, letter boxes, billboards, cars or casual passers-by as well as, of course, the primary subjects themselves: the buildings with their physiognomies.

Pinakothek der Moderne
Images © Gerrit Engel


Stampfli & Turci – Art Dealers

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~ by Stampfli & Turci on September 4, 2009.

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