‘I’m in love, I’m all shook up’. What better way to describe German photo artist Thomas Kellner’s relationship with America than through the words of Rock and Roll legend Elvis Presley. For Kellner, the country is one of unlimited possibilities that are embodied within its iconic monuments and architecture. His unique approach to capturing these icons of America shows them in a different light, one where they appear to the viewer to have been shaken up by Kellner before being presented to the viewer.
Thomas Kellner has been working in photography since the early 1990s. His experiments within this medium have led him to develop his own process called ‘visual analytical synthesis’. When photographing his subject he does so through a series of detail shots in order to create contact sheets. The result is an image compiled of many smaller pictures that have been carefully planned out in order to build an overall impression of the original view. Through the construction of these images, Kellner is trying to replicate the way the viewer’s eye wanders over the subject it is looking at and then reconstructs it within the mind. This approach to the way the viewer sees a subject has led many to refer to Kellner’s work as Cubist. Through his technique Kellner certainly causes the viewer to look again and presents familiar subjects in an unfamiliar way.
For this exhibition Thomas Kellner has selected some of his favourite pieces that capture well-known landmarks in America. Visitors will recognise many of the monuments from Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Las Vegas. They are accompanied by the interiors of buildings in Washington, New York, and Boston as well as Ground Control in Houston. The Boston interiors are particularly important to Kellner because it was a commission to capture the restored interiors of the Boston Athenaeum that was the catalyst for Kellner’s first step towards photographing interiors.
The centrepiece of the exhibition is Thomas Kellner’s Grand Canyon, which is on display to an international audience for the first time. The artwork is over 4 metres long and is Kellner’s largest artwork. This artwork is as monumental as the canyon it depicts and demonstrates Kellner’s admiration for the landscape of America, showing that he is indeed ‘in love, I’m all shook up’.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue with selected texts.
All Shook Up: Thomas Kellner’s America
16 March 2019 – 3 November 2019
American Museum & Gardens
Bath BA2 7BD