In the winter of 2013 Bernheimer Fine Art Photography presents the exhibition Colour Today! in the gallery rooms of Brienner Str. 7, Munich. Within the scope of the group exhibition Bernheimer shows a selection of colour photographs by the artists Veronica Bailey, Candida Höfer, Guido Mocafico and Christopher Thomas.
Following the group exhibition Platinum, which examined one of the most original production techniques of photographs, Bernheimer dedicated its winter exhibition titled Colour Today! to a younger segment of art photography. The origins of colour photography go back to the 1930s, when Kodak and Agfa started to produce commercially usable colour-diapositiv-films, however within the art world black-and-white photographs were exhibited almost exclusively until the 1970s. Colour photography became an art form in its own right only in the 1980s. Reasons for the late recognition were the light sensitivity of the medium and the fact that journalists in particular used colour photography for advertisements, as well as the extensive private use of colour pictures by amateurs.
The recognition of colour photography as an art form is a cultural phenomenon and result of an aesthetic emancipation process, which started in the 1970s in the USA and took place at such speed, that only a decade later the differentiation between colour and black-and-white started to become obsolete. The first extensive museum exhibition of colour photography took place in New York, titled “Photographs by William Eggleston”. Since then colour photography is an integral part of art history.
The newly gained position of colour photography is marked by the fact, that the most expensive photographs ever sold are colour pictures. Today artists Cindy Sherman and Andreas Gursky, who create these pictures, are associated rather with the world of contemporary art than the photography. For todays viewer colour photography often seems more modern than timeless, classical looking black-and-white photography.
It may seem paradoxical that in an age of infinite possibilities in digital editing many photographers revert to classical compositional techniques of painting, and seem to return to a more conservative art concept. Representatives of this trend are world famous photographers Candida Höfer, Thomas Struth, Andreas Gursky and Thomas Ruff among others. Self-confidently these representatives of the Düsseldorfer Schule present their works in large format and thereby stress the autonomy of the single picture as a piece of art concluded in itself, which needs no further context. A photograph by Candida Höfer from the series of museum interiors will be displayed in the Colour Today! exhibition. Höfer’s large size photographs are mostly conceived factually. Therefore it is not the effect of recognition that stands in the foreground, but rather the artistic creation of the photograph, which is based on the choice of image detail.
Guido Mocaficos tableauxs are easily accused of doing justice much too willingly to the traditional visual habits of a museum visitors and to invite to quick art consumption, due to their classical compositions. Nevertheless, if one tries to understand the complexity of Mocaficos still life and landscape photographs, one soon finds out, that the classical compositions of these contemporary pictures hold a very modern statement. The statement is recognizable when looking closely - while the surface seems smooth and appealing, the profound messages about life, death and mortality are omnipresent, just as they are in old master paintings.
Veronica Bailey also plays with different levels of perception, something the titles of her photographs already reveal. Within the scope of the exhibition Colour Today! a selection of photographs from the series About Face, which loosely lean upon Mr. and Mrs. Woodman by Man Ray from 1947, are on display for the first time. Before a black background Bailey arranges wooden dolls provokingly in claustrophobic situations. Correspondent to her earlier works the titles of the colour photographs already reveal a second meaning: all wooden dolls are named after female artists of the surrealistic period. The claustrophobic effects of the photography stand in relation with the social and private circumstances of the female artists.
In his work series 90 Cans Christopher Thomas captures ordinary objects, rusted, decaying metal drinking cans. Using colour photography Thomas reveals the beauty of the 90 Cans by showing their delicate colours. Like single portraits they are presented in subdued and enticing tones before a black background. Christopher Thomas obsessively picked up cans from the streets during his trips around the world over the last 15 years. His action resembles an inventory and typologisation. With almost an archaeological look at the visible remains of everyday objects, Christopher Thomas preserves beauty, which reveals itself in the decay. Within the scope of Colour Today! a selection of this new series is presented for the first time.