untitled (Self-portrait), 2002 Hans Hansen
A VW Golf, built in 1988, nice and neat and dismantled into around 7000 pieces, graphically arranged glass blocks, the silhouette of a flower or the captured image of a Japanese wooden mask – Hans Hansen‘s view of things is greatly reduced, linear, and at the same time, full of energy.
He always treated industrially manufactured products, natural objects and everyday objects with the same precision and dedication. Technical accuracy and graphic minimalism lend the objects a visual life. Since the 1960s, hardly any other photographer in his profession has shaped our perception of the everyday world of things as decisively as Hans Hansen.
Hansen was one of the first photographers to set new aesthetic standards in both free and applied photography, and to this day, he has been able to combine both fields equally. In 1968, he captured a dismantled beetle for the well-known Volkswagen campaign by the New York-based agency Doyle Dane Bernbach. At the end of the 1980s, he repeated this project with a Golf on behalf of VW. With this work, he gained international recognition and linked advertising photography with visual art and design for the first time. Hans Hansen prefers to capture „inanimate“ things. His image objects are always radically isolated and perfectly illuminated – that‘s a must for Hansen.
Regardless of whether Hans Hansen photographs products for Porsche, Erco or Vitra, they are always arranged and structured while meticulously comparing the form, colors and the material of the objects. In addition, his photographs are often created using the positive-negative process. The continuous occupation with materials, such as glass and water, led to commissioned works for Tapio Wirkkala ice glass objects and the photo sequence Glaswasser, in which he visually relates the two organic substances. Hansen‘s black and white images of hair, wrinkles on the body and carrier snails, as well as his color images of vegetable, fruit or plant models visualize his fascination for the materiality of individual objects. Hans Hansen‘s typical minimalistic dramaturgy of light, from which he often forms graphic figments and creates unique architectures, characterizes his artistic approach. While he has classed his commissioned work in the field of applied photography, he is increasingly devoting himself to free studio photography and describes it as an experimental field and creative space. A game with form and light in which he allows natural objects and human artefacts to emerge.
With the exhibition Hans Hansen . Still Life, C/O Berlin is presenting the multifaceted work of this German photographer and addressing both his free and applied works. The selection offers an insight into the substantial, material and sensual quality of his objects, as well as into his artistic and technical image production and leads us through the visualization of still-life photography of industrial, artisanal and natural objects.
The exhibition was curated by Felix Hoffmann and Hendrik Schwantes. An accompanying publication with more than 250 pages will be published with Spector Books, Leipzig, with texts by Hartmut Böhme, Hannes Böhringer, Falk Haberkorn, Axel Kufus, Juhani Pallasmaa and Anna Voswinckel.
Hans Hansen, born in 1940 in Bielefeld, studied ‚applied graphics‘ at the Düsseldorf Art Academy after an apprenticeship as a lithographer. He is a self-taught photographer. Since the beginning of the sixties, he has been working as an independent photographer in Hamburg for renowned companies such as American Express, Audi, Bulthaup, Daimler Benz, Dibbern, Erco, Kodak, Lufthansa, Siemens, Vitra, VW and more. His images also appear in well-known national and international journals, specialist magazines and magazines such as GEO Magazin, Greenpeace Magazin, Mare, Stern, Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin, Zeitmagazin and others.