FLORIAN STEININGER. The Kunsthalle Krems Director about Axel Hütte
What is behind the horizon ? How does the picture continue left and right of the edge ? What else is there ? Axel Hütte’s pictures awaken the desire in the viewer to be able to recognize more.
Axel Hütte (born 1951 in Essen, Germany) is one of the leading protagonists of contemporary landsacape photography. Accdording to the curator of the exhibition, Florian Steininger, he contributed essentially to the self confidence of photography as a medium in visual arts after the 1970ies.
Axel Hütte was a student of Bernd and Hilla Becher, founders of the Düsseldorf school of Photography. The school had a profound influence on international photography, eminent representatives were colleagues of Hütte, like Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Thomas Ruff and Thomas Struth.
Hütte’s work is exhibited in museums and galleries around the world since 1979.
Kunsthalle Krems now presents the first comprehensive solo exhibition of Axel Hütte’s oeuvre in Austria. The show displays a dialogue between older work cycles and newer groups of photographs.
A series of works was especially created for the Kunsthalle Krems exhibition - photographs of imperial rooms and buildings in Austria: Stift Melk, Stift Admont, Stift Altenburg, the Belvedere, Prince Eugene’s winter palais, and the Hotel Sacher. There are also two recent video works by the artist in the show, as well a portrait photographs, among them of artists like Jeff Koons, Albert Oehlen, or Katharina Fritsch.
Ever since his first series of landscapes, Hütte’s work revolves around the broad lines of an autonomous esthetic. Landscape is a relatively unusual genre in contemporary art, his evidently pictorial style defines his work, over time it has become his trademark.
Like the great landscape masters, Axel Hütte takes the landscapes out of their context, he structured the image section in several levels and in clearly structured fields. The feeling of an absence of limits and the fragility of material boundaries are characteristical of Hütte’s landscape images which avoid all loud visual sensations.
In his photographs, Hütte tries to capture the unattainable in nature. His enormous formats of formal perfection and unusual detail renounce to any human presence, deconstructing reality to an almost abstract vision.
In his work, the traits of nature border the abstract, in these humanless, peaceful landscapes there are still traces of something reminding of a northern romanticism. Hütte claims not to be a romantic, even if he plays with the elements of Romantic painting – clouds and fog.
He wants to capture „what never has been captured“, capture the reality that is only readable between the lines.
At times Hütte travels thousand of kilometers with his heavy camera equipment in order to capture his motifs.
Some of the sceneries with their dense atmospheres and unusual perspectives remind of landscape paintings of the Far East.
When viewing these works, those who want could even speculate about references to art history, trying to find similarities to masters of European landscape painting, like William Turner or Caspar David Friedrich
In these landscapes as heavy as lead, without any presence besides the vague outlines of the natural environment, Hütte nevertheless tries to « avoid abstraction », in his own words, and even though he gets very close to it, according to him photographs should not be a complete documentation but an exploration of the unreachable.
For Axel Hütte, photography is like a language in which many things a´remain unspeakable, but the gaps and blank spaces are filled by the imagination, heightening the viewer’s awareness.
The exhibition is open until the 10th of June 2018. (written by Cem Angeli)