Florian Maier-Aichen: Blum & Poe

By Brooks, Amra | Artforum International, April 2006 | Go to article overview

Florian Maier-Aichen: Blum & Poe


Brooks, Amra, Artforum International


In his recent exhibition at Blum & Poe (an identical set of works was shown almost simultaneously at 303 Gallery in New York), German-born photographer Florian Maier-Aichen brought a painter's and draftsman's eye to the practice of photography. While many photographers are still technical purists, Maier-Aichen marshals a refreshing diversity of approaches. To make Untitled (all works 2005), for example, he used a computer to draw a version of an existing photograph, making a new image in which one of two smokestacks is shown falling, almost striking the second. The only original element left unmanipulated is the view of the sky. Tacitly acknowledging the course of German photography since Bernd and Hilla Becher, the artist also engineers a critical extension of that lineage. In particular, he further questions the established tradition of landscape as subject.

In 20th Century Fox, Maier-Aichen again used a computer to draft a new image based on a low-resolution original taken from an old video recording, adding detail to the sky and the monument pictured in the famous logo. The end result looks less like a photograph than a weathered print, drawing, or propaganda poster from the studio's 1930s heyday. Here, as in Untitled, the artist implies that we have a responsibility to continually question the authority and authenticity of images, whatever their source. Above June Lake pictures a mountainous site in California that resembles a piece of exotic coral. Its unexpectedly fiery hues result from the use of a special kind of infrared film that turns greens to reds. At first glance the image looks like an enlarged detail of a shell or stone, but soon the turquoise lake, winding roads, and white ski trails ease into focus and we realize that it's a topographical aerial view. …

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