“His process is his subject.” Alison Nordström
In 2008, six venues throughout Germany and the United States featured photography pieces from the work complex “Dancing Walls“ by the artist Thomas Kellner (born 1966, lives and works in Siegen, Germany).
The exhibitions began in January in the Art Gallery in Siegen, the artist’s hometown, after which the next exhibition showcased at the John Cleary Gallery, Houston, in February. In spring “Dancing Walls” was featured by the K4 galerie Werner Deller in Saarbrücken and the Galerie Maurer in Munich in May. Then during the second half of the year two further exhibitions will take place at the Schneider Gallery in Chicago and at the In Focus Galerie Burkhard Arnold in Cologne.
Each exhibition presented a unique selection of the artist’s large-scale color photographs from 2003 – 2006 of famous architectural monuments’ interiors. In contrast to many contemporary German photographers who studied under Bernd and Hilla Becher at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf such as Andreas Gursky, Thomas Struth, or Candida Höfer, Thomas Kellner is not interested in objective, documentary photography. He focuses instead on the creative process, on the act of taking pictures and on the camera as the essential artistic tool. All works in the “Dancing Walls” series are artisticly arranged photomontages. Their language of fragmentation, reminiscent of cubistic and futuristic paintings, is permeated by a rhythmic musicality, which Kellner describes as a “vibration” or a “dancing glance”.
The first exhibit from the work complex “Dancing Walls” is the programmatic piece “British Museum, 2005”, which ingeniously transforms the architectural language of the “Great Court British Museum” project by the famous British architect Norman Foster into a kaleidoscopically arranged composition of dissected parts. Further highlights of the work complex are the series of radiantly luxuriant and golden interior views of the Genovese Pallazzi from 2005, which pars pro toto create an image of the city as a whole, and the single piece “Boston Athenaeum, 2006”, which not only reflects the architectural language of that building’s exterior but also plays with a traditional metaphor in its motive of a staircase. A further central piece, created in 2006, is the photography “Mexico Munal”, an additional inner view of a city’s landmark (illustrated in the enclosed press photo).
In “Dancing Walls”, as well as in his continued earlier, open-ended series “Tango Metropolis”, Thomas Kellner joins the ranks of photography history with his extraordinarily unique photographic method, which is based on his former experiments with the pinhole camera. Kellner records the architectural monuments with his camera in a way analogous to the natural process of seeing. The thus created series of single shots from a slightly slanted perspective are subsequently construed into a new picture.
With subversive irony Thomas Kellner’s architectural photographs do not appear as the postcardesque pictures of iconic monuments we carry in our minds, nor can they be seen as images documenting these monuments’ perfect form. His buildings do not appear consolidated, much rather deconstructed into multiple fragments and reconstructed to assume an entirely new form. However, the ostensible interpretation of Kellner’s work as being cubistic-fragmentarian montages is too narrow. In fact, his art explores the history of the photography genre in a media-reflective way. Its essence lies within the fact that his large-scale color photographies are contact sheets composed of consecutively assembled filmstrips of a single shooting session. Specific pieces in “Dancing Walls” are made up of up to nine hundred shots, which translates into twenty-five rolls of film. This implies that the conceptual process begins far before the camera is actually implemented: the fragmentation of the image initially takes place within the artist’s mind. The end result amply reveals the photographic process, and even more so, it transcends the medium of photography to fundamentally argue in inter-media terms, in the dimension of the film:
“The vocabulary shared by the contact sheet, the zootrope and the motion picture is a simple assembly of images arranged one after the other in the order in which they were made, so that frozen moments in time are used to delineate space. We think of Edweard Muybridge, whose elaborate use of serial trip wires showed us the precise component movements of a horse’s streamlined gallop, or of the stilled beat of the hummingbird’s wing revealed by the stroboscopic experiments of Harold Edgerton. We are reminded that more and more of the newspaper photographs we consume are images sliced out of videotaped continuity. Kellner’s development of this working method shows an awareness of his medium’s past and present. It is self-reflexive, like so much contemporary art. It is even somewhat ironic in its choice of grand subject.” (Alison Nordström, Curator of Photographs, George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester, New York, from the exhibition catalog Thomas Kellner: Dancing Walls)
Thomas Kellner’s work has reached a wider audience in the past seven years through numerous exhibitions in notable galleries within Europe and the United States. Recently, he has also been enjoying increased exposure in Asia. Beyond his work as an artist, Kellner also works as an expert on photography and is busy as curator and initiator of a photographers network.
If you require any further information or additional press photos, please contact the artist’s business office at email@example.com.
Excellent Photographer Award 2009, Pingyao International Photography Festival, Pingyao, Peoples Republic of China
September 19 - 25, 2009
Pingyao International Photography Festival, Pingyao, China
November 8 - December 23, 2008
in focus Galerie, Cologne, Germany
September 5 - October 21, 2008
Schneider Gallery, Chicago, IL, USA
May 8 - June 15, 2008
Galerie Maurer, Munich, Germany
April 4 - 30, 2008
K4 galerie, Saarbruecken, Germany
February 23 - March 22, 2008
John Cleary Gallery, Houston, TX, USA
January 25 - February 24, 2008
Art Galerie, Siegen, Germany
Art Galerie, Siegen, John Cleary Gallery, Houston, K4 galerie Werner Deller, Saarbrücken, Galerie Maurer, München, Schneider Gallery, Chicago, in focus Galerie, Burkhard Arnold, Köln, ed. 2007. Thomas Kellner: Dancing Walls 2003 - 2006. 1000th ed. Siegen.
Galerie Vrais Rêves, ed. 2014. Thomas Kellner: Contacts 1997-2013. With the assistance of R. Mathieu and R. Viallon. 1000th ed. Lyon.
Kellner, Thomas, ed. 2011. Thomas Kellner: Mexiko. Lüdenscheid, Berlin: Seltmann+Söhne.
———, ed. 2019. All Shook up: Thomas Kellner's America. Lüdenscheid, Berlin: Seltmann+Söhne.
Kreis Düren, ed. 2010. Thomas Kellner FarbWelt 135-36: Kunstpreis Des Kreises Düren. Düren: Kreis Düren.
The Boston Athenæum, ed. 2008. All Shook up: Thomas Kellner Photographs the Boston Athenæum. Boston: Athenæum.
Verve Gallery, ed. 2016. Thomas Kellner.
Arrouye, Jean. 2014. “Un Art D'imagination.” In Thomas Kellner: Contacts 1997-2013, edited by Galerie Vrais Rêves. 1000th ed., 4–5. Lyon.
Bennette, John A. 2004. Idea, Identity, Icon.
Centro Culturale Europeo & Arte e Cultura srl fondazione Carige, ed. 2005. Genova Scatti Europei. Genova.
FotoFest Houston, ed. (2008) 2008. Participating Spaces: FotoFest. Houston, Tex. FotoFest Inc.
Fresh Art Management Team, ed. (2001) 2001. Fresh Art. Fresh Art Management Team.
Guotian, Zhang, ed. (2009) 2009. China Pingyao International Photography Festival 2009. Pingyao: International Photogrpahy Festival.
Kellner, Thomas. 2005. “Lichte Leichtigkeit.” In Genova Scatti Europei, edited by Centro Culturale Europeo & Arte e Cultura srl fondazione Carige. Genova.
Nordström, Alison. 2007. “Thomas Kellner: Dancing Walls 2003-2006.” In Thomas Kellner: Dancing Walls 2003 - 2006, edited by Art Galerie, Siegen, John Cleary Gallery, Houston, K4 galerie Werner Deller, Saarbrücken, Galerie Maurer, München, Schneider Gallery, Chicago, in focus Galerie, Burkhard Arnold, Köln. 1000th ed., 5. Siegen.
Wendorf, Richard. 2008. “Deconstructing Athena - and Me.” In All Shook up: Thomas Kellner Photographs the Boston Athenæum, edited by The Boston Athenæum, 1–22. Boston: Athenæum.
Zehnder, Frank G. Prof. Dr. 2010. “Von Der Autonomie Des Bildes.” In Thomas Kellner FarbWelt 135-36: Kunstpreis Des Kreises Düren, edited by Kreis Düren, 23–29. Düren: Kreis Düren.
Castro, Fernando R. 2011. “Thomas Kellner: Kontakte Einer Unendlichen Stadt.” In Thomas Kellner: Mexiko, edited by Thomas Kellner, 37-46, 49-57 engl. Lüdenscheid, Berlin: Seltmann+Söhne.
Hearst Communications Inc., ed. (2016) 2016. Hearst Tower: A Landmark Partnership. New York: Hearst Communications.
Seltmann+Söhne. 2013. Thomas Kellner Mexiko. Lüdenscheid: Seltmann+Söhne.
Wendorf, Richard. 2008. The Literature of Collecting & Other Essays. 1. ed. New Castle, Del. Oak Knoll Press.
———. 2016. Growing up Bookish: An Anglo-American Memoir. First edition. New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press.
Journals and magazines
Alarcón, Concepción. 2008. “Thomas Kellner: Fragmentos De Percepción.” La Fotografia Actual 20 (130): 10–14.
Aylott, Bob. (2008) 2008. “Book Review: Dancing Walls 2003-2006.” Amateur Photographer, 44–45.
Hinkel, Matthias. (2008) 2008. “Thomas Kellner: Dancing Walls 2003-2006.” Kunst aktuell (5): 18–19.
Juan, B. “Tanzende Gebäude: Der Berühmte Meisterfotograf Thomas Kellner.” House Weekly. December.
Mindlin, Bill. (2008) 2008. “Photograph: September/Oktober 2008.” 6 (1).
Nordström, Alison. 2008. “Thomas Kellner.” Kwartalnik Fotografia (24-25): 88–93.
Ostmann, Sabine. (2001) 2001. “Thomas Kellner.” Photographie. Das Magazin für digitale und analoge Photographie International 25 (5): 88–93.
Piovesan, Giulio. 2019. “135 Istruzioni Di Montaggio.” Foto Cult (5): 54–61.
Scheit-Koppitz, Stefanie. 2008. “Thomas Kellner: Dancing Walls 2003-2006.” Photopresse (3): 40.
Schumacher-Vogel, Andrea. 2007. “Foto-Kunst Aus Siegen - Für Museen Der Welt: Thomas Kellner: Globetrotter in Sachen Fotografie.” Top Magazin Siegen Wittgenstein 2 (1): 92–93.
Späth, Frank. 2008. “Tanzende Wände.” Photographie. Das Magazin für digitale und analoge Photographie International (2): 66.
Zollner, Manfred. 2008. “Das Besondere Portfolio: Der Dekonstruierte Raum.” fotoMagazin (8): 124–29.
———, ed. 2008. “FotoMagazin Edition #16 Meisterwerke Der Fotografie. Fotokunst Zum Sammeln: Der Fotograf Und Sein Motiv. Thomas Kellners "Hearst Tower", New York 2006.” Special issue, fotoMagazin, no. 8.
Brinkhoff, Katja. 2018. “Video "Fotograf Thomas Kellner" - Lokalzeit Südwestfalen.” W.D.R. February 2, 2018. Accessed February 04, 2018. www.ardmediathek.de/tv/Lokalzeit-S%C3%BCdwestfalen/Fotograf-Thomas-Kellner/WDR-Fernsehen/Video.
Grandon, Florence. 8. April, 2008. Thomas Kellner - "Dancing Walls". Le 12/13 Midi pile. Nancy Cedex: France 3, Lorraine champagne ardenne, 2008. DVD.
Naudet, Jean-Jaques. 2019. “All Shook up : Thomas Kellner’S America.” loeildelaphotographie.com/en/all-shook-up-thomas-kellners-america-bb/.
Zjezdzazka, Ireneusz. (2008) 2008. “Stykówki Thomasa Kellnera / Thomas Kellner's Contacts.” Accessed December 15, 2017. web.archive.org/web/20180718142223/http://zjezdzalka.blogspot.com/2008/01/stykwki-thomasa-kellnera.html/.