Michael Schmidt (1945–2014) occupies a unique position in contemporary German photography. Born in Berlin and with no formal training in photography, he discovered the medium as a form of artistic expression in the mid-1960s. The retrospective at the Hamburger Bahnhof portrays his life’s work chronologically for the first time and also represents the first exhibition of the photographer’s oeuvre in his hometown of Berlin in 25 years.
For each of his work groups, Schmidt developed an individual photographic method of accessing reality. These include portraits, self-portraits, cityscapes, landscapes and still lifes. Along with the series Waffenruhe (1987), Ein-heit (1996), Lebensmittel (2012) and other original photographs, the exhibition presents unpublished working prints, book designs and archival materials to illustrate the development of Schmidt’s art, which through its continual exploration and innovation has been seminal for a younger generation of photographers.
A 400-page catalogue published by Koenig Books accompanies the exhibition and contains essays by Ute Eskildsen, Janos Frecot, Peter Galassi, Heinz Liesbrock and Thomas Weski, all of whom worked with the artist on various projects.
Following the exhibition at Hamburger Bahnhof, the retrospective will be shown at the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume in Paris (11 May – 29 August 2021), the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid (28 September 2021 – 28 February 2022) and the Albertina Museum in Vienna (24 March –12 June 2022).
The exhibition has been generously supported by the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe, the main sponsor of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (represented by Berlin Hyp, Berliner Sparkasse, DekaBank Deutsche Girozentrale, Deutsche Leasing, Feuersozietät Berlin Brandenburg, Finanz Informatik, NORD/LB Kulturstiftung, Savings Banks Cultural Fund of the German Savings Banks Association, and the Sparkassenverband Westfalen- Lippe) and is made possible through the Capital Culture Fund.
A special exhibition of the Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin in cooperation with the Stiftung für Fotografie und Medienkunst with the Archiv Michael Schmidt.