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PORTFOLIO

01.10.2018

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Back in the sixties, Wessel began putting together what was to become a multi-faceted body of work, focussing, above all, on both the urban and the rural areas of California. In this regard, the Leica was his favourite camera: it offered him the kind of spontaneity necessary to capture the kind of motifs that stand out within the plethora of everyday diversity – motifs that even might appear in front of his lens while driving in a car. The pictures are far from boring: images that at first appear banal, are loaded with subtle irony and a fine sense of humour.
Born in New Jersey in 1942, Wessel first discovered photography after having completed studies in Psychology. Following a photography internship in New York, his success was immediate; already in 1973 he was given a solo exhibition at the New York Museum of Modern Art. His participation in the seminal New Topographics: Photographs of the Man-!Altered! Landscape group exhibition at the George Eastman House in Rochester in 1975, established him definitively as a representative of a new, objective way of looking at landscapes. Not least thanks to nearly three decades tutoring at the San Francisco Art Institute, Wessel has had significant influence on generations of photographers.
The multi-award-winning Henry Wessel, has now passed away in Richmond, California. He was 76 years of age.
Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1968 © Henry Wessel, courtesy Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne
Desert, 1972 © Henry Wessel, courtesy Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne
Nevada, 1975 © Henry Wessel, courtesy Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne
© Calvert Barron

Henry Wessel

Henry Wessel was an American photographer and educator. Wessel produced a number of books of photography. He was the recipient of two Guggenheim Fellowships and three National Endowment for the Arts grants. His first solo exhibition was curated by John Szarkowski at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1972. His work has since been exhibited in solo exhibitions at Tate Modern in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Wessel was emeritus professor of art at San Francisco Art Institute, where he taught from 1973 to 2014.
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