July 24 2020: 4,270 miles away - The relationship between Thomas Kellner and Chicago

Chicago / Siegen. Fine art photographer Thomas Kellner was able to shine with two works in the United States. They were donated by  Schneider Gallery, in whose care the works were previously, and Kellner to the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago.

In 1976 the Museum of Contemporary Photography was founded by Columbia College in Chicago. It is one of the few photography museums in the Midwest of the United States and is therefore somewhat unique in its specialization. From the 1990s until today, the collection grew to 15,000 works by more than 1,500 artists.

Martha Schneider (director of the Schneider Gallery) and Thomas Kellner have been working together since 2002. Schneider visited the photography collection at The Art Institute in her free time and exchanged ideas with curator David Travis for decades. She had the opportunity to build an incredibly large network of artists, art collectors and customers over the years. This in turn, enabled her to place Thomas Kellner in the United States with collectors and colleagues. Schneider represented among others, the Moroccan photographer Lalla A. Essaydi who became known for portraying Arab women in contemporary art.


In Kellner's work “Basílica - Mexico” the interior of a holy site is moved in almost chaotic movements, so that the Basílica seems to rearrange itself completely above its visitors. According to the story, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared there in 1531, Juan Diego who then told the incredulous bishop. When he did not believe him a portrait of the Virgin appeared, so that since then "Tepeyac has been a place of religious pilgrimage and the image of the Virgin Mary is the most reproduced [...] in Mexico" (see p. 7 of German Castro wrote essays “Thomas Kellner: Contacts of an Infinite City” in 2011).

In contrast, in the second work "Manhattan - Lower Skyline" the architectural structure of the urban jungle is reconstructed by Kellner and brings the skyscrapers of an infinite city to life. It almost looks like the buildings are dancing over the Atlantic Ocean. "Kellner's work invites us to meditate on the physical objects that we will and / or will build as public signs of the key moments in the history of Western culture." (See p.7 in AD Coleman's 2003 essays "Structure implies and has movement").

In addition to the two museums Art Institute and Smart Museum in the United States of America, the Museum of Contemporary Photography has now also integrated Kellner's works into its collection.

With the help of the gallery owner Martha Schneider, several Chicago museums have put a lot of effort into Kellner's work and expressed their appreciation by being included in their collections.

From a regional perspective, some museums also own Kellner's work. For example, the Siegerland Museum has postcards of Kellner's works and the collection of the City Museum in Attendorn contains a linoleum cut. Finally, the City Museum in Gießen acquired a picture from the “Façeds” series.

Thomas Kellner is a regionally, nationally and internationally sought-after artist who has managed to arouse worldwide interest in his unique method of "visual analytical synthesis". Through the use of contact sheets, it appears that buildings come to life and break their static constants.

After almost 20 years in Chicago, this is a deserved success that resulted from the successful cooperation between Thomas Kellner and gallery owner Martha Schneider.

The Museum of Contemporary Photography
Columbia College Chicago
600 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60605