Petra Wunderlich shows sacred architecture such as Christian church facades, synagogues, and the quarries where their building materials are removed. For her series of black and white photographic works, the artist chose the landscape format and depicted the selected buildings in detail from a central perspective.
With her minimalist image aesthetics, Petra Wunderlich initially seems to disdain the sacred buildings and their attribution to eternity, as the analogue photographs do not convey a sense of the sublime. Instead, the photographer turns her camera on the unstoppable gentrification of big cities and urban development, and on the quarries which knock entire craters into the landscape.
Petra Wunderlich's visual vocabulary aligns with the tradition of “Neues Sehen” from the Düsseldorf Becher School, which established conceptual photography as a sovereign art genre in the 1970s to 1990s. The starting point is the formally austere and unadorned composition of the pictorial objects, and an interest in industrial architecture. In addition to Petra Wunderlich, the students of this approach included Andreas Gursky, with his digital colour photographs of urban architecture, and Candida Höfer, who devotes herself to the architectural structures of public interiors.
A focus on the structure of architectural and landscape objects, their formal-aesthetic differences and commonalities, as well the development of a photographic archive, are the shared references of this group of artists. The Fascination with the preservation of time and transience led Petra Wunderlich to use analogue photographic tools as the main medium of her work. A close relationship to Conceptual Art and Minimal Art is also evident in the way that the artist deliberately excludes people or other narrative details. In her work, which is represented in collections , she directs attention to the urban landscape as a mirror of society.
The artist photographs her subjects from an elevated vantage point in early morning light, drawing attention to the image center which causes the main subject to stand out in sharp focus. The photographs are printed on Japanese paper with a very high silver content, giving the works the allure of Eugène Atget's photographic prints. This aesthetic and the cropped perspective run through Petra Wunderlich's photographic oeuvre as a whole, connecting the concept to art and architectural history.
While studying painting in Paris, Petra Wunderlich was inspired by the work of the fin de siècle French photographer Eugène Atget and subsequently decided to study photography with Bernd and Hilla Becher at the Düsseldorf Photography School in 1994. The artist works and lives in Berlin and New York City. More