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More than Meets the Eye
Art photography from the Deutsche Bank Collection tours through Latin America

With "More than Meets the Eye," Deutsche Bank is presenting an extensive selection of photographic works from their collection for the first time. The show offers a multi-faceted panorama of contemporary German photography – from the modern classics of the Dusseldorf School to younger protagonists like Delia Keller or Sandra Meisel. Maria Morais introduces the traveling exhibition, which is currently celebrating its premiere at the MARCO Museum in the Mexican city Monterrey.

Julian Rosefeldt, Oktoberfest, 1996-99,
Deutsche Bank Collection

Brightly lit and filled with thousands of people to the very last seat, the ornate festive tent seems to overflow beyond the picture's borders. The image vibrates in an allover of light, flags, banners, tables, benches, and people, pulling the viewer irresistibly into the tent’s interior, which dissolves in the background in a glaring white blur. Julian Rosefeldt's Octoberfest, photographed in central perspective, seems almost exemplary for the exhibition theme of the show it will be touring with through Latin America: More than Meets the Eye – Art Photography from the Deutsche Bank Collection.

Andreas Gursky, Tokyo Börse, 1990,
Deutsche Bank Collection

With this traveling exhibition, which will be shown over the next two years in renowned museums in Monterrey, Mexico City, Bogota, and Sao Paulo, the Deutsche Bank Collection is presenting a comprehensive overview of its photographic works for the first time. The show's focus is on German photography after 1945 and its connection to other art forms and movements – from its beginnings in typological series to the large formats that began competing with sculpture and painting from the eighties on.

Candida Höfer, Museum für Völkerkunde Dresden I + II, 1999,
Deutsche Bank Collection, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2006

With its proliferation of detail and a touch of sacred ritual, Octoberfest not only offers an image to exemplify the show's title; it also marks a stage in modern German photographic history. "It's about a variation on something already known," Rosefeldt said in retrospect about the work. "The Octoberfest offers room for the everyday and for local folklore; it's a ritual that's repeated every year – and it's worth a news report every year, too." At the same time, Rosefeldt was interested in the archaic context the image conveys: "I had to think of paintings like Albrecht Altdorfer's Alexanderschlacht, while the photographs Andreas Gursky made at Techno raves keep reminding me of battle scenes." The fact that he refers to the Dusseldorf-based art photographer Andreas Gursky is understandable, as the monumental Octoberfest was made in the mid-nineties during the climax of the "Dusseldorf School" boom influenced by Bernd and Hilla Becher.

Thomas Struth,
Broadway at Wall Street New York/Wall Street, 1978,
Deutsche Bank Collection

Thomas Struth,
Broad Street New York/Wall Street, 1978,
Deutsche Bank Collection

In contrast with the Bechers, who, striving for a new definition of public sculpture, coined the term "anonymous sculpture" early on for their architectural photographs, their students also represented in the show – Candida Höfer, Andreas Gursky, and Thomas Struth – turned to architectonic situations. Starting off with the idea that these spaces influence the notion of the public sphere and are in turn influenced by it, their images of architectural spaces aim to record the conditions of public consciousness and collective states and to make them available in the form of an image archive.

Bernd und Hilla Becher, Hochöfen, 1972, Deutsche Bank Collection, © Bernd and Hilla Becher, Konrad Fischer Galerie, Düsseldorf

In this context, the series Furnaces, Cooling Towers , and Water Towers (all from 1972) assume a key position in the exhibition due to their pioneering significance for the formulation of new photographic principles. The artist couple, who termed these works "Typologies," ordered the objects they photographed according to functional, regional, historical, and aesthetic aspects. The Thomas Struth works shown in the exhibition also, like other Becher students, embody these standards and expand upon them thematically. While his early images of New York streets still clearly bear the influence of his teachers, a juxtaposition with his Louvre 2 Paris, made ten years later, makes it clear where this subsequent generation found their new field of experimentation: in individual large-scale photographic images.

Thomas Struth, Louvre 2 Paris, 1989,
Deutsche Bank Collection

While Thomas Ruff's monumental portraits of friends and Gursky's images of stock exchanges continue to be conceived in series, the sheer size of the motifs draws the attention to the individual work. This effect is strengthened by the additional appropriation of painterly references, such as Rosefeldt's reference to Altdorfer's Alexanderschlacht. On the other hand, Delia Keller's Bauhaus Stairs shows just how closely photography approaches painting; the work reconstructs Schlemmer’s motif of the same name depicting the famous stairs in Dessau. Not least, the imitation of a painting in a large-scale photograph indicates the enormous self-confidence young photographers must have to place their works in such defiant competition to painting.
Thomas Ruff, Portrait (Elke Denda), 1988, Deutsche Bank Collection, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2006 Delia Keller, Die Bauhaustreppe, 2000, Deutsche Bank Collection, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2006

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