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Solo Exhibition

»Picturing landscape. SX-70 Polaroids 1978–2021«

Knut Wolfgang Maron

Knut Wolfgang Maron counts as one of the pioneers of modern color photography and Polaroid photography in particular. For his solo exhibition at the Alfred Ehrhardt Stiftung, he has selected several hundred images from a total body of work comprising over 8,500 Polaroids.

The inherently political dimension of Knut Wolfgang Maron’s imagery becomes apparent against the backdrop of climate change. Ecological issues have had an influence on Maron’s view of nature as far back as the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster: “Landscape photography with a Polaroid camera was considered an avant-garde quirk at the time. I was interested in using a contemporary medium to express the dialectic of a brave New World and the changing environmental conditions, especially after Chernobyl’s realworld and psychological impacts. Over the past forty years, the overall consciousness has changed considerably. Once again, a younger generation of photographers is paying attention to landscape, nature, and climate change.”

In 1978, when artistic color photography was first making its way into art museums in Germany, Maron was an outlier. Almost all photographers at that time focused on street photography and urban landscapes; he had no interest in being part of this American tradition. The Folkwangschule in Essen, where he studied under Otto Steinert and Erich vom Endt, was the first German university with a color photo lab. Unlike his fellow students, however, the trained photographer had already mastered the color process to perfection. Finishing his studies at this school was therefore no longer an imperative and by the time the Polaroid SX-70 camera came onto the market, he had made his decision to work with exactly this “imperfect,” difficult-to-control technology. Different from his contemporaries, he was not interested in the objective reality of reportage or documentary photography, but in a visual language that, in line with Otto Steinert’s “Subjective Photography,” calls for the viewer’s own subjective interpretation. Maron was a rebel of observation. His use of Polaroid photography deliberately ran counter to the zeitgeist. At that time, it was an unimaginable breach of taboo and a tremendous provocation against all art parameters.

Even today, this analog medium exerts a powerful appeal, especially with a younger generation that has grown up with digital production methods. Instant image generation not only makes Polaroids alluring but their fusing of surface areas and unconventional color tones are also highly seductive. The serenity of the square demands exacting compositional strategies, and the distance from the subject yields unexpected and surprising results.

Maron’s range of colors transports us to another world: seemingly immersed in an alien light, shrubs and trees are reduced to white silhouettes. Skies glow yellow, karstic rock formations oscillate into blue, ground surfaces turn purple, and the sea drowns in turquoise. Nature appears to be illuminated from within and is transformed into a reflection of a realm poised between dream and memory. Warm tones, but also focused, tranquil compositions attest to Maron’s deftness with the pictorial ideas of romanticism, conveying a restrained grandeur.

A catalog will be published by Verlag Kettler. Sponsored by Kunststiftung NRW.

Knut Wolfgang Maron, Bad Orb, 1979, Polaroid SX-70 © Knut Wolfgang Maron
Knut Wolfgang Maron, Deutsch Deutsche Grenze 2, 1988, Polaroid SX-70 © Knut Wolfgang Maron
Knut Wolfgang Maron, Deutsch Deutsche Grenze 1, 1988, Polaroid SX-70 © Knut Wolfgang Maron
Knut Wolfgang Maron, Reuse Vietnam, 1994, Polaroid SX-70 © Knut Wolfgang Maron
Knut Wolfgang Maron, Val sans retour, Bretagne, 1991, Polaroid SX-70 © Knut Wolfgang Maron
Knut Wolfgang Maron, Sonnenfinsternis, Marmara-Meer, 2000, Polaroid SX-70 © Knut Wolfgang Maron
Knut Wolfgang Maron, Mann im Rapsfeld, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, 1997, Polaroid SX-70 © Knut Wolfgang Maron
Knut Wolfgang Maron, Unterwegs (Camargue), 1991, Polaroid SX-70 © Knut Wolfgang Maron
Knut Wolfgang Maron, Mann im Kornfeld, 1979, Polaroid SX-70 © Knut Wolfgang Maron

Framework program

All events will be held in German. All events are by reservation, in accordance with official requirements. Please register in advance via Email, see respective links below.

Friday, September 17, 2021, 6 – 9 pm
Opening Reception

Sunday, September 19, 2021, 2 pm
Guided tour
Guided tour (held in German) through the exhibition with the artist and Dr. Christiane Stahl, director of the Alfred Ehrhardt Stiftung. Register for the Guided Tour

Sunday, October 10, 2021, 2 pm
Artist talk
Artist talk (held in German) with Thomas Seelig, director of the photography collection, Museum Folkwang Essen. Register for the Artist Talk

Thursday, November 18, 6 pm
Guided tour
Guided tour (held in German) through the exhibition with the artist and Dr. Christiane Stahl, director of the Alfred Ehrhardt Stiftung. Register for the Guided Tour

Alfred Ehrhardt Stiftung / Alfred Ehrhardt Foundation Berlin

Sep 18 — Dec 23, 2021
Opening Reception: Friday, Sep 17, 6 – 9 pm
+ Framework program: please see above

Auguststraße 75, 10117 Berlin
[District: Mitte | Borough: Mitte]

Opening hours: Tue – Sun 11 am – 6 pm

Admission free

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PiB Guide Nº53 MAR/APR 2024 © PiB (Photography in Berlin). COVER PHOTO: Wände, Mauern, Zäune und andere Begrenzungen, 1985-89 © Situation Kunst / Dietmar Riemann. Solo show »Innere Angelegenheiten« by Freundeskreis Willy-Brandt-Haus in Berlin-Kreuzberg, read more on page 4 & 5! +++ +++ 4 photos on right double page spread (p. 5, Top to Bottom/Left to Right): 1) Wände, Mauern, Zäune und andere Begrenzungen, 1985–89. 2) Renntage – Menschen auf der Trabrennbahn, (Ost-)Berlin-Karlshorst, 1975–76/1979. 3) Schaufenster, 1986–89. 4) Warten – Fotografien aus dem Pflegeheim St. Elisabeth-Stift Berlin, 1984–85. All images: © Situation Kunst / Dietmar Riemann. +++ PiB Guide Editor / V.i.S.d.P. / Art Direction: Julia Schiller · ele studio berlin. Printed by altmann-druck in Berlin-Köpenick, many thanks!

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»PiB — Photography in Berlin« | PiB’s website, PiB’s weekly E-Newsletter, and the bi-monthly published PiB Guide: page 12 & 13 from the PiB Guide Nº15 Nov/Dec 2017; feat. the exhibition Evelyn Hofer »Cities, Interiors, Still Lifes. Photographs 1962 – 1997« at Galerie Springer Berlin; image credits: Queensboro Bridge, New York, 1964 / Coney Island, New York, 1965 / Girl with Bicycle, Dublin, 1966, all 3 photos © Evelyn Hofer, Estate Evelyn Hofer.
»PiB — Photography in Berlin« | PiB’s website, PiB’s weekly E-Newsletter, and the bi-monthly published PiB Guide: page 12 & 13 from the PiB Guide Nº15 Nov/Dec 2017; feat. the exhibition Evelyn Hofer »Cities, Interiors, Still Lifes. Photographs 1962 – 1997« at Galerie Springer Berlin; image credits: Queensboro Bridge, New York, 1964 / Coney Island, New York, 1965 / Girl with Bicycle, Dublin, 1966, all 3 photos © Evelyn Hofer, Estate Evelyn Hofer.

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