For four days only, between January 10th and 13th, 2017, those who found themselves in the marvellous Italian city of Florence had the change to attend the Ruediger Glatz photography exhibition. Set inside the remarkable Palazzo Gianfigliazzi Bonaparte, the showcase under the title CHARACTERS featured a series of portraits by the German artists, developed in the context of THE NEW BLACK series. Between August and December 2016, Ruediger Glatz photographed certain men at certain locations in his recognizable style, eventually producing 36 high quality photographic prints and an accompanying catalogue. But, these characters of his seem familiar, so we can’t help but wonder: who are these men? And what is this sort of energy they are oozing with through these poignant black and white shots?
About this, and more, we talked to the author himself, Ruediger Glatz, about the inspiration behind the project and the success of the Florence exhibition. Scroll down and have a read.
Widewalls: Who are the “Characters” in your exhibition? Why the choice of these particular subjects?
Rüdiger Glatz: CHARACTERS is a self-contained project and was developed in the context of my portrait on the fashion scene, THE NEW BLACK, that begun 2009, still is in progress and has not been exhibited yet.
For this portrait series of 12 international personalities from different genres, I focused on the very one thing they/we have in common...a strong character. I chose the combination of a close-up portrait and 2 moments of their lives that give a brief insight in their stories and explore their mystery.
Sandro Kopp, Paris - France / Artist
Anton Magnani, Milan - Italy / Art Collector & CEO of Sutor Mantellassi
Carlos Baker, Milan - Italy / fashion designer from Chicago
Beau Stanton, New York - USA / artist
Timothy Everest, London - UK / fine tailor
Thomas Erber, Paris - France / creative director & trendsetter
Jean-Pierre Marois, Paris - France / hotelier & owner of Les Bains
James Sleaford, Paris -France / fashion editor of GQ France
Massimo Montesano , Milan - Italy / lawyer
Saturnino Celani, Milan - Italy / musician
Johann Haehling von Lanzenauer, Berlin - Germany / gallery owner
Ruediger Glatz, Hamburg - Germany / artist
The project was an artist collaboration with the prestigious Italian shoemaker SUTOR MANTELLASSI
Widewalls: How did the project come to be?
RG: I was approached by the Italian art-collector Anton Magnani, who happened to be the CEO of the brand SUTOR MANTELLASSI, for an artist collaboration. He liked my previous work and was seeking for an artist to have a series produced, that would in some way would visualise their understanding of style and mystery around the brand.
Widewalls: Does it have a connection to any previous works?
RG: Indeed it has. The style of the 12 close-up portraits came from a previous project called VERY GOOD DOGS. A portrait series on Rottweiler dogs and one of the world´s most renown breeder, which I had on display at a soloshow at the Kunstverein Rottweil in 2010 and at a groupshow in Brussels in 2009. At the time I was seeking for a way to capture the mystery of a Rottweiler dog over a close-up. This style I later tested out at some artist friends (Sandro Kopp and Andreas CASE von Chrzanowski) and than used it for CHARACTERS. Beside that, as mention, I see this project in the context of THE NEW BLACK.
Widewalls: Because each of the subjects is so individual and particular, what it is that you try to capture when taking their photograph? What’s the biggest challenge for a project like this?
RG: Most of all their mystery and character. The biggest challenge was with the characters I met over the project for the first time. Of course I interviewed them up-front, but there is a huge difference between a person I know for many years and a person who I meet for the first time to capture his mystery within a day shooting. And finally there was the factor of time. Within 3 months we needed to travel 3 times to Milan, once to Paris, New York, London and Berlin…and than I had 2 weeks time to produce all 36 pieces, which was extremely tight.
Widewalls: What is it that decides the location of your images? We see some of your men are photographed out in the open, others inside the studio…
RG: The 12 close-ups were shot in a mobile studio situation to create a neutral standard I could reproduce, while the other 24 images (2 each person) were shot at places the person lived at, worked at or were just special to them. These places built the frame to put the person´s mystery and character in the focus. e.g. of the lawyer Massimo Montesano from Milan I captured a moment, while he entered the university building, where he studied to become a lawyer, in a moment his body was in a light-shadow-play looking like a knife…the position he holds for his clients cutting out legal problems of their lives, beside that he is a very sharp person.
Widewalls: I notice the use of black and white photography that seems to recall the old days of the medium. Do you shoot in film? How is the black and white aesthetic aiding your vision?
RG: I use b/w to put more emphasis on the subject I shoot. b/w reduces to the forms what is in my interest. I would use color if I need it to express important aspects. The analog aesthetic is what I love even though keep the freedom to choose the technic that serves my needs the most which is mostly digital, but executed with classic system like the LEICA and treated in the digital darkroom just as in the analog. While shooting there is no difference for me except the fact you are more flexible and you can be faster if needed using digital.
Widewalls: The exhibition in Florence took place at a stunning historical building. Can you tell us how your works ended up being put on display there?
RG: On display was the final result of the project…36 pieces of 12 characters. Of each I created a close-up portrait and I captured them in their daily lives twice. The close-ups where shoot and printed in a way, that at very low light you would meet an almost black print. The more light comes to the print the more the person appears. At the images of the show you see the portraits at max light.
Indeed the Palazzo Gianfigliazzi Bonaparte is an incredible and magic place. As a matter of fact I play with the idea to work in the context of my project STORY on a very own chapter dealing with the mysteriy of these rooms…maybe as well Florence. But this is just an idea at the moment.
Widewalls: Where will the photo series go from here? Do you plan on expanding it?
RG: At this point it seems to be closed, but I feel the same time it could potentially get expanded later on.
Featured images: Ruediger Glatz CHARACTERS exhibition in Florence, courtesy the artist.
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