Michael Schmidt

18 Nov. 2008 - 10 Jan. 2009

Installation view

The Suzy Shammah Gallery presents the first exhibition in an Italian gallery of Michael Schmidt, one of the best well-known German photographers of the post-war generation. His pictures deal with the burden of history and the uncertainty of memory. Schmidt portrays urban architecture as physical as well as social landscapes, providing a formally balanced but menacing representation of the modern metropolis. The artist, in his black-and-white photographs, merges an infinite number of greys with a documentary mode, creating a unique poetic style, both fantastic and objective. 

His exhibitions have the quality of a musical masterpiece where pictures of different formats and subjects are placed into the space following strict but invisible rules. Single photographs are often assembled into series and void is part of their significance. He often appropriates preexistent images, film stills, and old newspaper photos. His inspiration gathers from various sources, ranging from extensive travelling to August Sander's portraiture.

Michael Schmidt was born in 1945 in Berlin, moved with his family in 1949 to eastern Germany and flew before the Wall was erected back to the city's west side. He began taking photographs in 1965 as an autodidact. In 1976, he founded the Werkstatt für Photographie (Workshop for Photography) in a building overlooking the Berlin Wall, where he served as its director from 1976 to 1978 and continued to teach there afterwards. Michael Schmidt has been the first German photographer to hold a solo show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1988, with his breakthrough project Waffenruhe (Ceasefire). His pivotal work Ein-heit (U-ni-ty), an essay composed by 163 photos created between 1991 and 1994 reflecting forty years of Germany separation, was exhibited in 1996 at MoMA, and in 2006 at the 4th Berlin Biennial obtaining an important visibility in Europe.

Michael Schmidt will show in Milan photographs chosen from his famous series LandschaftenNaturPortraitsFrauenIrgendwo and Waffenruhe, thus composing a new chapter of his fascinating visual narration. 

Installation plan

Untitled (from Frauen series), 1997-1999
gelatin silver print
44 x 30 cm each

Untitled (from Natur series), 1988-89/05
gelatin silver print
69 x 55 cm approx. each