Thomas Kellner has worked in photography since the early 90s. Since 1997, he has created numerous highly recognizable artworks as a freelance creator. His photography has made its way into many prominent museums, including the MFA in Houston and the AIC in Chicago. At the early stages of his career, he worked primarily in black and white, very often using pinhole cameras to produce his art pieces. Themes included landscapes, nature, humankind, his face, the German border, and many more. Much of his early work still exudes the experimental quality of alchemy. Since 1997, he has increasingly devoted himself to contact sheets of 35mm film. Throughout this timeline and in ever-striking series on architecture, he manages to bring buildings' facades and interiors to shake. His artworks and commissions have been shown in over 500 exhibitions on all continents. The artist is also available for contract on commissions and produces custom artwork, such as portraits, upon request. He has successfully completed custom commissions for the Hearst Corporation in New York, for European Capital of Culture competitions, for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Magazin, and more.
Click here for an overview, a catalogue raisonné in the making. Catalogues of artworks are important for collectors and, if you look at Gerhard Richter, for example, they can effectively communicate the value of a body work beyond its pricing. So far, the online gallery offers primarily a directory of works of photography, but some early drawings, prints, sculpture works and painting also exist. A catalogue of his painted artworks is to be compiled and will cover the period before his studies and the early years of his creative activity, where he developed a mindful conception for his painting, later discarded after he devoted himself to pinhole photography. The various series can be found listed there, but the full catalogue raisonné or artworks and commissions will be uploaded upon completion. A published volume of the catalog raisonné does not yet exist, but a bibliography does. In fact, more than 30 monographic works are available, which present it in thorough detail. His works are found in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, among other museums.
In the page linked above you will find both first impressions and everything you need to know about Thomas Kellner's successfully completed commissioned artworks, which the artists accepts to this day. If you are interested, please refer to the listed references and observe a selection of the results. More information about the photographer's working method, entire process and approach will also provide you with an idea of how adaptable and tailor-made his workflow and communication process are, while also gladly leaving room for improvisation and inspiration. The incorporation of his commission work into the overall catalogue raisonné of his photography is planned for the near future. Particularly popular are the fashion photography reworkings of his contact sheet photography for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Magazin, as well as his architectural photography for the Boston Athenaeum. For more details, please feel free to click on the link above.
Thomas Kellner's oevre has grown out of two lines of work over the years. Like many other professional artists and creators, on the one hand his practice develops autonomously from his own creative initiative, the primary driver for an artist to create. Often working in cycles, he spins and completes a particular observation, a moving thought or a fascination almost serially, exploring its consequences within a thematic framework. On the other hand, like many artists in history, Thomas Kellner also likes to work on commission.
There, the artist and photographer expediently finds an intersection between his aesthetic ideas and the content and goals of the client. In his own independent work, the creative photographer has broadly dealt with the relationship between visual perception, its content of truth and the contradictions that arise between it and the photographic process of capturing an image. Beginning with his early work with self-built pinhole cameras, which he can utilize to both include the photographic process in the conceptual approach and simultaneously influence said process, he has since moved towards producing fragmented images on contact sheets that trigger a reflection on seeing, especially in connection to architecture and spatiality. His historical emphasis spans a broad arc with special mention to Cubism, August Sander's portrait photography, and the Bechers' body of work.
He implements this idea purposefully and expressively for his clients in contracted, commissioned projects. For example, the artist plays with our perception and with our concepts of beauty, elegance and style in his fashion photography for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
Although perhaps hard to imagine under today's perception of it, commissioned art is even older than that made out of the creative mind's own initiative. Aside from prehistory and selected examples throughout history, most of what has reached our times is relatively clearly the result of somebody commissioning an artwork as a client. Even if it is the form of expression of societies at large, one always finds that its power and effectiveness is often used as an expression of power, of a particular worldview, or in the context of religious belief, throughout antiquity and around the world. Very often, these commissions were issued as a sort of public service, i.e. in the case of temples and civil architecture, sculptures in public space, music and dance for celebration and war, images in books...
Commissioners or sponsors, be they institutions or individuals, hired specific artists in order to claim cultural capital during the early modern age, thereby socially associating themselves with ideas of taste and culture of the time. Throughout time, specialized commission artists have used their client's contract as a platform for their artistic expression, although their ambitions were always subjected to the approval process of whoever commissioned and requested the piece of art.
More recently, a very intimate relationship with all kinds of creative production has developed in the minds of societies, which is why commissioned art and artists still exist today, where people commission an artist as a client to present someone with a gift or for private enjoyment.
Although works of art usually enter the market without commission, this form of contract in creative production retains an important role. It serves to embellish buildings and spaces, portray important events or people, promote certain ideas or values, or address social and political issues.
A chronological overview of the author's signature projects can be found under Artworks by Thomas Kellner, where further information on specific concepts and versions of the series and cycles are described in more detail. All publications and other materials, among them original pieces, are available for purchase in the shop, where you'll also find details on pricing, fees and payment options. The author works closely with the publishing house seltmann publishers.
Above you will find an overview of the projects that the photographer Thomas Kellner has successfully realized by commission so far. You are welcome to contact the studio if you're interested in the commission process or in commissioning a work of art.