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Jess Johnson: Worlds Within Worlds Ocula Conversation Jess Johnson: Worlds Within Worlds

Geometric patterns, anthropomorphic characters, architectural spatial environments, and relics of the ancient world appear throughout Jess Johnson's artworks.Johnson's solo art-ventures began in drawing, but her long-term collaborative relationship with animator Simon Ward brings her drawings to life in videos and virtual reality. The animator has...

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Melati Suryodarmo: Performance Art as Trigger Ocula Conversation Melati Suryodarmo: Performance Art as Trigger

In 2012, Melati Suryodarmo opened Studio Plesungan in her native Surakarta, also known as Solo, the historic royal capital of the Mataram Empire of Java in Indonesia. Suryodarmo had returned to Indonesia from Germany, where she studied Butoh and choreography with Butoh dancer and choreographer Anzu Furukawa, time-based media with avantgarde...

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Lagos Biennial 2019: Stories from Africa’s most Populous City Ocula Report Lagos Biennial 2019: Stories from Africa’s most Populous City 15 Nov 2019 : Jareh Das for Ocula

Under the direction of Folakunle Oshun, the second edition of the Lagos Biennial (26 October–23 November 2019) includes works by over 40 Lagos-based and international artists, architects, and collectives. Curated by architect Tosin Oshinowo, curator and producer Oyindamola Fakeye, and assistant curator of photography at the Art Institute of...

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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough Ocula Insight | Video
Sponsored Content | Mazzoleni Gallery
Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough 15 October 2019

Hans Hartung and Art Informel at Mazzoleni London (1 October 2019-18 January 2020) presents key works by the French-German painter while highlighting his connection with artists active in Paris during the 50s and 60s. In this video, writer and historian Alan Montgomery discusses Hartung's practice and its legacy.Born in Leipzig in 1904, Hans...

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Michael Wolf

(1954 - 2019), Germany

Michael Wolf was a contemporary German-born fine art photographer venerated for his skill in exposing the raw nuances of living in a metropolis and the effects of urbanisation. His work observes complex urban societies by capturing the city's architecture and people, drawing on the conflicts of public versus private space, historical versus modern architecture, and the individual versus the collective in urban living.

Born in Munich and raised in Canada, Wolf studied in the United States and Europe, attending the University of California, Berkley before returning to Germany to study under Otto Steinert—the founder of the Subjective Photography movement—at the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen. Subjective Photography examined the subconscious and human condition rather than representing the seen world; this influenced Wolf, who was interested in exploring the complexities of contemporary urban life. He developed a successful career as an independent photojournalist in Germany and in 1994 moved to Hong Kong to work for the German magazine Stern.

In Hong Kong Wolf's photography practice switched from photojournalism to fine art photography. His iconic observations of the city represented indefinite rows of enormous concrete high-rise buildings as formal abstract forms and patterns. The flattened structures, void of sky, a horizon line, and human existence, took on the spatial perspective and experience of what it might mean to be a Hong Kong inhabitant surrounded by and living in masses of concrete and steel. As a contrast to the lifeless towers the artist also created artworks that examined human life within the bustling city, exploring and exposing the intricate backstreets and alleys, and the people who live in them. From 2008 to his death in 2019 he lived between Hong Kong and Paris. It was Paris, where he was grappling with the city's architectural impenetrability, that led him to explore and utilise the vast image library of Google Street View to zoom into minute details of everyday inhabitants wandering urban streets, raising questions on surveillance and anonymity.

Publishing photobooks became an important part of Wolf's practice as an archive of his expansive repository of observations. Titles include Michael Wolf Works (2017), Tokyo Compression Revisited (2011), Real Fake Art (2011), Tokyo Compression (2010), Hong Kong: Inside/Outside (2009), The Transparent City (2008), Hong Kong: Front Door/Back Door (2005), and Sitting in China (2002).

Wolf has exhibited at prestigious institutions such as the International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale; Museokeskus Vapriikki; Foam Fotographiemuseum Amsterdam; The Hague Museum of Photography; Aperture Gallery, New York; Museum for Work, Hamburg; Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture, Shenzhen; and Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago. His artwork is held in many prominent collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum Folkwang, Essen; Brooklyn Museum; Cleveland Museum of Art; San José Museum of Art; Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin; and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Museum, Kansas City. He won first prize in the World Press Photo Contest in 2005 and 2010, and was given an honourable mention in 2011. In 2010 and 2016 he was shortlisted for the prestigious global Prix Pictet award in photography and sustainability.

Biography by Ocula | 2019
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Featured Artworks

View All (13)
Tokyo Compression #176 by Michael Wolf contemporary artwork
Michael WolfTokyo Compression #176, 2010 Archival pigment print on Hahnemuehle art rag paper
50.8 x 40.6 cm
Christophe Guye Galerie
Tokyo Compression #156 by Michael Wolf contemporary artwork
Michael WolfTokyo Compression #156, 2010 Archival pigment print on Hahnemuehle art rag paper
50.8 x 40.6 cm
Christophe Guye Galerie
Paris Street View #16 by Michael Wolf contemporary artwork
Michael WolfParis Street View #16, 2009 Archival pigment print
34 x 27 inches
Bruce Silverstein
Transparent City #12 by Michael Wolf contemporary artwork
Michael WolfTransparent City #12, 2007 Archival pigment print
70 x 90 inches
Bruce Silverstein
Paris Rooftop #17 by Michael Wolf contemporary artwork
Michael WolfParis Rooftop #17, 2014 Archival pigment print
48 x 64 inches
Bruce Silverstein
Architecture of Density #20 by Michael Wolf contemporary artwork
Michael WolfArchitecture of Density #20, 2005 Archival pigment print
40 x 58 inches
Bruce Silverstein
Transparent City #01 by Michael Wolf contemporary artwork
Michael WolfTransparent City #01, 2007 C-print
121.9 x 152.4 cm
Christophe Guye Galerie
Architecture of Density #120 by Michael Wolf contemporary artwork
Michael WolfArchitecture of Density #120, 2008 C-print
162 x 118.9 cm
Christophe Guye Galerie

Current & Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Michael Wolf, METROPOLIS at Bruce Silverstein, New York
Open Now
24 October–21 December 2019 Michael Wolf METROPOLIS Bruce Silverstein, New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Showroom at Christophe Guye Galerie, Zurich
Open Now
29 August–23 November 2019 Group Exhibition Showroom Christophe Guye Galerie, Zurich
Contemporary art exhibition, André Kertész, Michael Wolf, Rooftops at Gallery Fifty One Too, Antwerp
Closed
10 September–26 October 2019 André Kertész, Michael Wolf Rooftops Gallery Fifty One Too

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

The Art You Missed During Art Basel in Hong Kong Ocula Report The Art You Missed During Art Basel in Hong Kong 24 Mar 2015 : Sam Gaskin for Ocula

One local gallery manager described it as constipation: Hong Kong holds in its art activities all year before forcing everything out in the week that Art Basel comes to town. The fair alone is like a system of intestines: unraveled, the paths visitors have to walk to see all the works would stretch for kilometers. There is also a huge amount of...

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In Related Press

Michael Wolf obituary Related Press Michael Wolf obituary The Guardian : 2 May 2019

After moving on from a successful career in photojournalism in 2003 to pursue his personal work, the photographer Michael Wolf, who has died unexpectedly aged 64, devoted himself to exploring the complex nature of life in some of the world's largest cities. Michael was best known for his series Architecture of Density (2003-14), which focused on...

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Michael Wolf: Roulette with the Real Related Press Michael Wolf: Roulette with the Real Elephant : 30 July 2018

'I see myself as an anthropologist,' Michael Wolf tells me as he guides me around his show, Informal Arrangements (27 November 2015–9 January 2016), at Flowers Gallery in London's East End. The densely gridded façades of Hong Kong's high-rises dominate one wall but elsewhere the material on display has a more improvised, intimate air. As a...

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