Artner, A., 2003. Thomas Kellner's images arrest and dazzle. In: Chicago Tribune, March 21, 2003.
Thomas Kellner's color photographs at the Schneider Gallery are some of the most arresting pictures now on view in Chicago.
Since the photographer is a relatively young German--37 and a native of Bonn--it is immediately necessary to add that unlike images by his most acclaimed countrymen, Kellner's are small, undoctored and not laminated to plexiglass despite their depiction of very large subjects.
They are photographs of radically reconstructed architecture. Working from a painting of the Eiffel Tower by Robert Delaunay, Kellner discerned a rhythm that could be applied to other structures. After working out the restructuring in sketches, he creates it by tilting his 35mm camera this way and that as he photographs. Kellner prints every consecutive image from every roll of film he uses to create his pieces.
The resulting pictures resemble David Hockney's "cubist" photo collages, though Kellner's are not collaged at all. Instead they're calculated frame by frame to form a new configuration on his proof sheet. This, of course, is an extremely exacting process, for if the angle of even one frame is off, it throws into disarray the entire rhythm so the reconstruction has to be abandoned and begun again.
Kellner has been doing these pictures for four years, during which time his ambition has grown and the configurations have become more complicated. He now reconstructs modern and contemporary buildings as well as historic monuments, giving even the most familiar structures unimaginable twists.
The exhibition at Schneider is the photographer's first in the Midwest, following by only a few weeks his debut in the United States. However, already he has chosen 50 buildings to be photographed in New York and Chicago.
The pieces currently on view are all from Europe and Great Britain. Even with relatively unfamiliar buildings such as Lacock Abbey, the home of William Henry Fox Talbot, the father of photography, Kellner's reconstructions are immediately perceivable as extraordinary.
Who would have thought that so much wonder could still be created with straight photographs in a time given to digital manipulation?
At 230 W. Superior St., through April 20. 312-988-4033.
Copyright (c) 2003, Chicago Tribune, By Alan G. Artner, Tribune art critic, March 21, 2003