Michael Schmidt/ German Images.

I am not interested in classifying photographers by their nationality. It’s just one more drawer to be put safely away. As soon you are classified under socks, or lets say German photographers, you might as well become invisible. The labels you firm under become more important than the actual work you do. It is simply easier to use labels than to use your eyes, your heart and your brains.

Opening the drawer called “German Photography” I find instead of order a complete mess. Some random names to mention: Sewcz, Blossfeld, Ruff, Gursky, Schmidt, Mader, Paris, Struth, Demand, Struth, Becher, Koopmann, Hanzlova, Tübke, Hassos, Sander, Florschuetz, Wüst, Schulze, Borchert, Fuchs,Richter, Fengel, Sasse, Prinz, Feininger, Bellmer, Reinartz, Klemm, Morath, Nothelfer, Baumann, Weinand, Bertram, Schlicht, Teller, Lempert, Tillmanns, Zille, Riebesehl,….

What an idiotic classification system: but at least David Hamilton and Sebastian Salgado are not to be found here.

German photography: this label only bears meaning, if you are able to define some common characteristics.


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Michael Schmidt/ Portraits; 1970-1974.

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Michael Schmidt/ Portraits; 1970-1974.


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Michael Schmidt/ Berlin-Wedding; 1976-1978.

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Michael Schmidt/ Berlin-Wedding; 1976-1978.



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Michael Schmidt/ Berlin-Wedding; 1976-1978.



As I am not interested in the classification by nationalities, I never was interested in photography dealing with the topic “Germany” or “Heimat”.
I own several books by Michael Schmidt. Somewhere along the road I realized that he in fact is occupied with Germany, with German reality connected with German history, maybe more than anybody else her in this country. But the deciding factor for acquiring his books were his images, not what he was occupied with.

I always was more interested in images than the reality they were referring too.

For the German cityscapes, crowded with architectural mishaps, I would have liked to find a language. That’s the point where Peter Piller came into this game. He was able to articulate with his trove of areal photographs what I was looking for:

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Michael Schmidt/ Berlin-Wedding; 1976-1978.


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Michael Schmidt/ Berlin-Stadtbilder; 1976-1980.

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Michael Schmidt/ Berlin-Stadtbilder; 1976-1980.



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Michael Schmidt/ Berlin-Wedding; 1976-1978.

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Michael Schmidt/ Berlin-Wedding; 1976-1978.

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Michael Schmidt/ Berlin-Wedding; 1976-1978.



Germany reflected by photographic images.

Time after time, Michael Schmidt recreates his photographic language.
Most of his images have two things in common: their silvery grey colors, and Germany as topic. But there are exemptions to this rule: his project dealing with women, a formally austere and in the same time, a lewd glance at the alien gender, and “Waffenruhe”, this gloomy, rather than grey project, dealing with divided Berlin. A project depicting the wall, frostiness and aggression, a project dealing with a particular approach to life in this divided metropolis in the years before 1987.




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Michael Schmidt/ Frauen; 2000.

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Michael Schmidt/ Frauen; 2000.

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Michael Schmidt/ Frauen; 2000.



WAFFENRUHE/ CEASE-FIRE
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Michael Schmidt/ Waffenruhe; 1985-87.

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Michael Schmidt/ Waffenruhe; 1985-87.

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Michael Schmidt/ Waffenruhe; 1985-87.

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Michael Schmidt/ Waffenruhe; 1985-87.

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Michael Schmidt/ Waffenruhe; 1985-87.

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Michael Schmidt/ Waffenruhe; 1985-87.

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Michael Schmidt/ Waffenruhe; 1985-87.

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Michael Schmidt/ Waffenruhe; 1985-87.

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Michael Schmidt/ Waffenruhe; 1985-87.

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Michael Schmidt/ Waffenruhe; 1985-87.

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Michael Schmidt/ Waffenruhe; 1985-87.

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Michael Schmidt/ Waffenruhe; 1985-87.

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Michael Schmidt/ Waffenruhe; 1985-87.

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Michael Schmidt/ Waffenruhe; 1985-87.


Though in all of his projects, the subject of the artist, his language, is important, his subjectivity becomes obvious in “Waffenruhe”.
Initially Schmidt was striving primarily to depict reality in a, so to say, “true “ manner. Reality as it is. Reality as it seems to be. How difficult it is to find a language for this alleged realism I might not have to mention to anybody, who knows projects similar to Schmidt’s, or has tried to photograph with comparable ideas in mind.

One could connect Michael Schmidt’s changeover from this so-called realism to the ostentatious subjectivism in “Waffenruhe” with the parting of painting from realism.

Again and again Schmidt has reinvented his language, a language always precise and beautiful. Schmidts way of expressing himself hasn’t become part of a globalized visual language that is picked up by photographers all over the world just to loose, if they ever had any, their artistic individuality.



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Michael Schmidt/ Portraits; 1983.

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Last but not least, Schmidt’s portraits. They are not heavily psychological, they aren’t romantic, they are sober, and incidental. You won’t get the impression to look deeply into the soul and the being of his protagonists. Anyway, that isn’t necessary. Photography is the art of the surface, just simulating depth. What I see in Schmidt’s portraits is an attitude towards life, belonging to a certain decade in time. That’s a lot.



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Michael Schmidt/ Portraits; 1989-94.