The Leica gallery presents a must-see retrospective of the black-and-white and color work of the Swiss photographer, whose insolence is reflected in his attitude as much as in his images.
Michael Von Graffenried has tried his hand at nearly every style of photography, as this exhibition shows. He first made a name for himself working in his native country of Switzerland, in Berne, where his unflattering photos of members of parliament gave him an early reputation as a troublemaker. In the 1990s, photography critics praised his humor and sense of the awry. But it was his work on Algeria in 1998 that first brought him international acclaim. For ten years he took photos with an old panoramic camera resting against his stomach and without making use of the viewfinder. The images he produced were violent and intimate, rarely neutral, and the composition was well controlled, despite the distortion caused by the type of camera.
Like a lone cowboy, von Graffenried has always worked for himself, refusing to join an agency. The press has served as a showcase for his work, which has appeared in leading publications like The New York Times, Le Monde, National Geographic and Libération. Von Graffenried has a penchant for political reports and disputes, but the Leica Gallery show demonstrates that he remains above all a photographer. Street scenes, portraits, nudes: Von Graffenried can do it all, or almost. So it’s no surprise to see that he has recently adopted a more conceptual approach. For his series Cocaine Love and Eye on Africa, he focuses on Swiss billboards and large-format panoramic photos. But the form remains the same: journalistic photographs with perfectly balanced compositions.
35mm de Michael Von Graffenried
until June 2nd, 2012
Leica Gallery de New York
670 Broadway, Suite 500
New York, NY 10012