Michael Wolf is a German artist and photographer well known for his sensible way of portraying the modern life of people living in big cities. He has been living between Paris and Hong Kong for a while and by taking inspiration from the lifestyle of these two huge cities, his new work comes to life. We had the opportunity to check out his new exhibition called Life in the cities on Fondazione delle Stelline in Milan, just right next to our office (!). It is the first retrospective exhibition dedicated to Michael Wolf in Italy, in collaboration with The Hague Museum of Photography. The exhibition is mainly divided in five parts: The Transparent City, Tokyo Compression, Paris Rooftops, Informal Solution, Architecture of Density. Here’s some of our favorite pieces:
The Transparent City (2006) tells the complexity of living in Chicago and transparency of the city's architecture and skyscrapers. All through the eyes of the photographer who has lived many years in Hong Kong, getting used to tall buildings, but with a definitely different landscape. There are many details he accidentally found while taking the photos that he chose to enlarge such as human details, pixelated portraits and blurred scenes, which are part of the sister series Transparent City Details (2006). This way, he was able to divide the project between microscope and telescope modes, the part and the whole.
Tokyo Compression (2010-2013) is one of his most famous series and has been critically acclaimed around the world. He pushes the issues of privacy and voyeurism to the extreme aiming the camera at anonymous passengers of Tokyo subway, coping with overcrowded trains. The public transportation of the Tokyo is known for its overcrowding problems and commuters suffer it everyday. There are in fact people that work exclusively to help people fit inside carriages during peak times. Here the photographic density style Wolf is known for plays not with the façades of skyscrapers, but with human faces pressed against the subway windows.
Another beautiful series by Wolf is Paris Rooftops (2014), with a room exclusively dedicated to it. It depicts Paris as we have never seen it before, playing with how the city can be abstract in a certain perspective. His visual cuts help create a flattening perspective where the buildings become abstract patterns and the viewer can’t seem to find the end of them. Maybe it's a homage to Fontana’s flattening style? Who knows. We just love it!