Roland Hagenberg portrait

Roland Hagenberg

Austria 1955

Photography, Video Art

Roland Hagenberg
Roland Hagenberg
June 24, 2015
Bojan is an author for Widewalls. He is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Belgrade, majoring in English studies. He is particularly interested in English linguistics and culture. Bojan is also interested in Photography and Digital Art.

Roland Hagenberg is an Austrian photographer, filmmaker and writer based in Japan. He is best known for his photographs of Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Background and Die Klinge

Hagenberg was born in 1955, in Vienna, Austria, where he grew up as well. Even as a teenager, he was interested in photography and writing. Having finished school for psychiatric nurses, he professionally took up photography and writing, and started working for various German publications. In 1970’s, he started his own magazine Die Klinge (meaning “The Blade”). Several renowned Austrian authors – novelists and poets – took a particular interest in the magazine: Robert Menasse, Friederike Mayröcker, Ernst Jandl, and even Elfriede Jelinek, who would become Nobel Prize laureate in 2004. They all contributed to Hagenberg’s Die Klinge.

Moving to New York

At 24, Roland Hagenberg left Austria and moved to Germany. Berlin was still divided by the Wall, which had drawn many different artists, Hagenberg included. He spent four years in Berlin, where he got even a greater chance to meet various artists, and people in general. He once said that he was more interested in people – their characters and ways of life – than their art. The art is just a representation of their personalities, and that inspired him to document life around him. He did it mainly through photography, but he also wrote short essays and poetry that accompanied and complemented the photography. This kind of art led him to New York in the 80s, where he met many more artists, including Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and Jean-Michel Basquiat. This was also a period where he started collaborating with artists such as Martin Kippenberger, Karel Appel and Keith Haring on book projects.

Friendship with Jean-Michel Basquiat

In 1980’s, Hagenberg made acquaintance with a then 23-year-old artist who was already a star in art world, Jean-Michel Basquiat. They slowly started building their friendship out of which emerged a photo-series of Basquiat painting in his messy, Crosby Street studio, which was the only series showing the prominent artist while working. A kind of dark aura surrounding the black-and-white photos became almost like an omen – only several years after the photographs were taken, Basquiat overdosed on heroin.

Roland Hagenberg - Basquiat in his Studio, 1983 - Photo Credits Roland Hagenberg
Roland Hagenberg – Basquiat in his studio; The pictures are included in Basquiat and Friends exhibition. Taken in 1983.

Roland Hagenberg and Japanese Architecture

After New York, Hagenberg moved to Japan, where he has been living for twenty years now. It was in Japan where his interest in architecture had developed. That was also when he started directing various films and videos about Japanese architecture. He never abandoned his passion for writing and he found a way to incorporate his writings and love for architecture into his art of photography (or maybe the other way around) – he published books in English, Japanese and Chinese, where he described incredible Japanese architecture.

20 Japanese Architects is a book Hagenberg wrote, and it consists of essays, pictures and interviews he did with numerous influential Japanese architects like Kengo Kuma, Tadao Ando and Hara Hiroshi, to name a few. Even prominent magazines in the field such as Architectural Digest featured his observations.

Hagenberg has been working with renowned Japanese architects (like Toyo Ito, Ryue Nishizawa and Kazuyo Sejima, all of whom received Pritzker Prize) on building experimental micro-houses in Raiding, Austria where Franz Liszt was born. This project called Storkhouse brought him the Austrian Tourism Innovation Prize in 2014.

Roland Hagenberg - Storkhouse, Raiding, 2010
Roland Hagenberg – Storkhouse, Raiding, 2010

Friendship and Collaboration with Sheila Metzner

One of many Roland’s passions is traveling, and on one journey in 2003, he met an American photographer Sheila Metzner, while they worked on a photo-shoot together for the BMW Magazine in the United States. The decade-long friendship gave birth to a joint exhibition dedicated to the beauty of the human body. Hagenberg is also working on a documentary about Metzner, music for which he wrote himself.

Roland Hagenberg - Fashion Jihad - Photo Credits Roland Hagenberg
Roland Hagenberg – Fashion Jihad; The photo is featured in the exhibition with Sheila Metzner

Roland Hagenberg currently lives and works in Japan.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2015Körperlandschaft (with Sheila Metzner)Ponyhof artclub, MunichSolo
2014StorkhouseMitsubishi Jisho Art Space, Fukuoka, JapanSolo
2014Basquiat: Photos by Roland HagenbergPonyhof artclub, MunichSolo
2014The Mirror: Hold the Mirror up to NatureTokyoGroup
201310 Years AfterSin Sin Fine Art, Hong KongSolo
2012Kleinarbeit-Small WorksRaiding, AustriaSolo
2011Architectural Environments for Tomorrow – The Philosophy of Hiroshi HaraMuseum of Contemporary Art TokyoSolo
2011Raiding Project: Crossover ArchitectureBMW Group Space, TokyoGroup
2010JapanLisztRaidingArchitecture Museum, ViennaGroup
2009Roland HagenbergOhara Museum, Kurashiki, JapanSolo
2009Architecture of the FutureMitsubishi Jisho Artium, Fukuoka, JapanSolo
2007BEAUTIFULLe Meridien Grand Pacific, TokyoSolo
2006SOBYOHubert Winter Gallery, ViennaGroup
200640+/40-Sin Sin Fine Arts, Hong KongSolo
2005LIGHTYEARSArtium, Fukuoka, JapanSolo
2005KYOTOGallery of the Austrian Embassy, TokyoSolo
2004C’EST SI BON!Orbient, TokyoSolo
200322 Photographs by Roland HagenbergMaison Franco-Japonaise, TokyoSolo
2003Planes to catch, and things to see!Gallery of the Austrian Embassy, TokyoSolo
2001sur/FACE: 14 Contemporary Japanese ArchitectsBMW Square in TokyoGroup
1999New York ArtistsGallery 360°, TokyoSolo
1998Tokyo RoomsKawasaki, JapanGroup
1995Jean-Michel Basquiat – photos by Roland HagenbergMoca-Foundation, TokyoSolo
1990Media-ImageThe Whitney Museum, New YorkGroup
1985Psycho PuebloFernando Vijande Gallery, MadridSolo
1985Eastvillage FunktionalRosa Esman Gallery, New YorkSolo
1984Photos by Roland RolandRosa Esman Gallery, New YorkSolo