Wim Wenders is renowned as an award-winning film director with a string of successes including The State of Things,Paris, Texas,Wings of Desire and the Oscar-nominated Buena Vista Social Club. Perhaps less well-known is the photographic oeuvre he has built up over decades, quite independently of his cinematic work – even though many images have been exhibited in museums like the Centre Pompidou and Bilbao Guggenheim.
His poignant and thought-provoking photographs of natural and urban landscapes capture the essence of a place, while exploring themes such as memory, time and solitude. From September 17 to November 14, a selling show at Blain|Southern Berlin, where Wenders is based, brings together around 35 new and recent photographs (€8,000-€80,000) of Germany and the US, along with a selection from the mid-1970s.
“As I can’t transport people to those places in the world that I found and liked, photography gives me the chance to take the places to them,” says Wenders. And so he immerses us in an ethereal Forest in Brandenburg (2014, third picture), whirls us on a Roller Coaster (2013, first picture) in Montreal, and transports us to dystopian landscapes in Drive-in at Night (2013) and the surreal Four Drive-in Screens (2013).
Some works are very large – 2m x 4.5m panoramas – allowing viewers to feel fully enveloped by the landscape, while an upstairs gallery presents smaller-scale work inspired by Wenders’ 1970s road-movie trilogy: Alice in the City;Wrong Move and Kings of the Road. Dusk in Coober Pedy (1978, second picture) with its silhouette of a wolf on a car roof, typifies his sharp eye for the truly bizarre.
“Wim is a master of his craft,” says Graham Southern, director of Blain|Southern. “He was recently awarded the Honorary Golden Bear for his lifetime achievement in film, and his photography has been the subject of a major museum retrospective at the SMKP in Dusseldorf. Whether working with still or moving images, he has a unique ability to capture the spirit of a place or moment in time. The pieces in this exhibition resonate with his desire to produce a truthful depiction of what he sees – the result of an auteur’s vision who has spent a lifetime travelling on the road.”
Wenders once described film as an “extension of painting by other means”. The same could be said of his remarkable photographic work too.