Friday, January 12, 2007

Elger Esser

I must admit that despite all the hype, there's a lot about the Dusseldorf/Becher school that I like. There are also some individual artists to come out of that who I am really drawn to. One such is Elger Esser. Most of his work is very lyrical (and at times seems quite "un-Becher-like" in a way). Some of his photographs draw from 16th and 17th landscape painting. He's also informed by things like 19th Century postcards or writings and sketches by Guy de Maupassant and Flaubert. Esser also experiments with photographic materials; using large format film he often utilizing extremely long dawn or dusk exposures (30 or 40 minutes I believe) and their associated colour shifts

From a short article: "The most impressive images by far are Esser's cityscapes, many of which depict small French riverside towns. In Macon, a strip of modest buildings along a riverbank is reflected upside down in the greenish water, as it might be in a 17th-century landscape painting or an early tourist photograph. In Gien, an ancient stone bridge arches toward a stand of houses; behind them, a turreted castle looms. These antique-looking scenes are especially beautiful: the sky glows with a golden, pinkish light, and the old stone buildings practically pulse with harmonious tones of gold, rose and white. Yet Esser also makes them anthropologically fascinating: the resolution is so clear and exact that it's possible to discern cars, read signs and even peer into windows--making for a delicious confusion between the town's multilayered, modern-day presence and the photograph's old-fashioned look".

his two main books are Vedutas and Landscapes:

articles, shows etc : here and here - though like a lot of really good contemporary photographers, it seems there isn't actually that much about him online. None of the websites I came across give anything close the the impression you get from looking at one of the two books I mention.

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