Disciple of Hilla and Bernd Becher, Axel Hütte (Essen, Germany, 1951) is part of the generation of photographers who emerged from the Düsseldorf school. Together with colleagues such as Thomas Ruff, Andreas Gursky and Candida Höfer, the artist presents a body of work that defines the general outline of German "New Photography".
Hütte’s obsession with travelling the five continents is initiated because he is awarded scholarships to travel to Venice and London. His work is defined by choosing such an unusual genre in contemporary art as landscape as an aesthetic and spiritual concept, a theme which he combines with an openly pictorialist aesthetic.
The artist shares the idea of beauty and travel. From his first series of Portuguese, Greek, Italian, French, Spanish, Swiss and German landscapes, Hütte traces the foundations of different essential aesthetics and leaves behind his black and white portraits and the oppressive architecture of cities like London from previous periods.
As occurs with landscape painters, Hütte structures the area that is being represented into different levels of importance. His photographs can be analysed as clearly structured fields, whether they are panoramic views or smaller drawings. When discussing his landscape images, it is inevitable to use the concept of the sublime, both in his first series of Italian landscapes, as in his later night scenes in cities.
The feeling of infinity in the image -with his special way of placing the horizon- and the fragility of the physical limits are some of the characteristic aspects of Hütte’s work.
Although virtually all of Hütte’s photography is based on nature at its freest, none of his landscapes can be considered natural. They all shape a cultural process, manipulated according to the perception of different perspectives, and are unthinkable in other historical coordinates.
Human presence is non-existent at the first glance of his photographs, but they are latent in the cultural footprint that the artist leaves behind, in the way he looks, the perspective and the fragment of reality that each photograph exemplifies and isolates as an independent world.
Humankind returns in his latest series of portraits reflected in water, in linking landscape and portrait, nature and the individual, to return to an urban landscape, great sleeping cities where the lights of the buildings and the streets illuminate man’s imprint.
Fundación César Manrique, Lanzarote (selection) (10 June - 10 September, 2004)
Reina Sofia Museum's Publications