Florian Maier-Aichen (b. 1973, Stuttgart, Germany) uses a combination of analogue and digital technical methods to derive abstract compositions from multi-layered photographic imagery. The artist employs an arsenal of tools and techniques to transform the medium from one of picture-taking to one of picture-making.
Maier-Aichen’s aerial and landscape works are informed by the history of photography and geographical exploration, manipulated to offset a heroic sense of perspective, offering a shift in awareness of time and place. Rejecting the tradition of Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity), which led to the Dusseldorf School of Photography approach, Maier-Aichen abandons the idea of photography as an objective medium. Whether implementing tricolor photography to recreate an image in the Swiss Alps by Eduard Spelterini or utilizing a chemogram to add surprising disturbance in an otherwise documentary photograph, the world that Florian Maier-Aichen offers us contains contradictions in subtle multitudes.
Swooping lines, which appear to be hand-drawn, are in fact analogue translations of digital scribbles. Conceived in the studio using primary tools—camera, lights, hand-painted cardboard foregrounds, colored backdrops, and transparent films—the artist intersperses intricate layers of media to create otherworldly images of experimental and painterly allure. A new series titled Lasso Paintings upends the classical function of photography, indulging a destructive impulse (erasure or coverture via scribbling) to create layered, semi-narrative abstracts. These hybrid photograph-paintings make use of Photoshop's lasso and brushes—tools meant to select and retouch areas of images usually seen as aberrant or unsightly. The Lasso Paintings propel the brush tool to a protagonist of ecstatic, gestural reveries, flipping the conventional function of this instrument. In stark contrast to their intended application of masking or re-creating truths, these programmed tools are converted into absurdist, metaphorical commentaries on photography's new infinite dimensions.
Maier-Aichen studied at the University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden and the University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany before earning his MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles, CA. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions internationally, including at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain (2008), and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (2007). His work is represented in the public collections of the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY. The artist currently lives and works in Cologne, Germany and Los Angeles, CA.
Florian Maier-Aichen: Snow Machine