HENRY WESSEL Photographs

Galerie Thomas Zander is pleased to present photographs of Henry Wessel. The exhibition features images from the acclaimed series “California and the West”, “Real Estate Photographs” and “Night Walk”, including rare vintage prints.

Since the mid-1960s, the American photographer Henry Wessel (*1942) has created a diverse body of work that was shaped from the outset by his interest in the sights and spaces of America. Wessel belongs to a group of photographers called “New Topographics”, among them Lewis Baltz, Robert Adams, Stephen Shore, Bernd and Hilla Becher, whose work engages in the dialectical relationship of nature and civilization. Beyond that, Wessel has developed his own thoroughly structured visual language with its characteristic touches of humour and irony. Coincidence, spontaneity and everyday chaos find a natural acceptance in his pictures. Wessel’s photographs often draw attention to quiet and simple scenes and events that could easily be missed. They speak of his intuition and visual sensibility to render scenes in a way that is formally convincing and lyrical at the same time.

In his work group “California and the West“ Henry Wessel put together his core ideas and subjects from the 1960s to the 1990s. Among his preferred motifs are the desert-like landscapes of California and the American West, the vernacular architecture and streets of suburbia, the gardens of the houses, scenes observed during parades or on the beach. 
Ever since Wessel’s fleeing west from the grey New York winter of 1969, the special light he found in California became a major compositional element in his photographic work. Henry Wessel’s interest in light is antagonistically reflected in the more recent series “Night Walk“. These photographs, dating from 1995–1998, were made after dark on long walks through residential areas of Los Angeles. In the series “Real Estate Photographs”, created in 1990 and 1992, Wessel works exclusively in colour. Shooting from the higher vantage of his pick-up, he systematically photographed suburban houses in the area around Richmond/California, which has been Henry Wessel’s home since the 1970s.

The accompanying publication “Henry Wessel. Standard”, Steidl 2007, won the German Photo Book Award. 2008.

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