PRINT April 2003


1989: New German Photography

EARLY IN 1989, I was commissioned to write a catalogue essay on two young German photographers who would show at P.S. 1's Clocktower Gallery as part of “Ruhrworks: The Arts of a German Region,” a New York “festival” of arts from the Ruhr Valley in northern Germany. I didn't know either artist: Both men boasted respectable exhibition histories in Europe but were yet to establish an American presence. Andreas Gursky would have his first New York exhibition later that year; Thomas Struth's track record included a one-person show at P.S.1 in 1978 and several group shows over the next decade. So I traveled to Düsseldorf to visit their studios.

I looked forward to seeing the work of these up-and-coming photographers in part because they had studied with Bernd and Hilla Becher at Düsseldorf's Kunstakademie. Well known for creating typological images of industrial structures, the Bechers were

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