Andreas Mühe: Stories of Conflict

16 FEBRUARY TO 19 JUNE 2022

Collection of Contemporary Art
Press preview: 15 February 2022, 11.00 am

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Press release

Andreas Mühe
Stories of Conflict
16 FEBRUARY TO 19 JUNE 2022

Collection of Contemporary Art
Press preview: 15 February 2022, 11.00 am

Andreas Mühe is one of Germany’s best-known artists. His photos revolve around sociological, historical, and political themes, which he stages in elaborately constructed, dramatically lit settings. From 16 February to 19 June 2022, the Städel Museum is presenting a solo exhibition of some 45 works by Mühe, among them better and lesser-known series from his oeuvre to date as well as the cycle Chernobyl II (2021), here on view for the first time. In his works, he concerns himself with attribution to collective categories such as family, nationality, politics, and culture as constructs of a social order. His portraits of Angela Merkel are iconic: he accompanied the former federal chancellor on many of her travels and undertook an in-depth analysis of her poses. The degree to which these shots are characterized by a political pictorial language is evident in other photographs of Merkel featuring the artist’s mother as a double. The line between real and staged becomes blurred—in the official and the simulated photos alike. In the town of Wandlitz, Mühe also photographed the houses of the one-time leaders of East Germany’s Socialist Unity Party (SED). Surrounded by darkness, they look like mock-ups and belie their historical role. Mühe uses a large-format camera that, on account of its difficult handling, presupposes complex compositions. With a sharply pointed aesthetic, he depicts historical occurrences or their venues in timeless environments. His aim is not to illustrate but to reinterpret the given contents – whether human beings, architecture, or landscape – by pictorial means. Mühe’s photos play with the viewers’ visual habits, an approach also encountered in works in the Städel collection by photographer colleagues of his such as Rodney Graham and Thomas Demand.

“His work is distinguished by his examinations of rifts in society, of violence, of the German-German identity, as well as his interrogations of himself and his own complicated family history. The Städel Museum is devoting its first exhibition of the year 2022 to photographs by Andreas Mühe. We only recently succeeded in acquiring his artwork Under the Tree of 2008 for the collection. Few photographers of the present burrow as painstakingly in German history and our remembrance culture as Andreas Mühe”, comments Städel Museum director Philipp Demandt.

Curator Kristina Lemke, who heads the Städel’s photography collection, adds: “As in a game of deception, Andreas Mühe’s photos always demand a second look. At first sight his works look familiar, but he breaks with expectations and shows how illusory aestheticized pictorial worlds can be.”

Andreas Mühe (b. in Karl-Marx-Stadt, present-day Chemnitz, in 1979) lives and works in Berlin. Following classical training as a photo lab technician, he went into business for himself as a freelance photographer. He specialized in portrait and magazine photography and spent the first ten years of his career carrying out commissions for Süddeutsche Magazin, Die Zeit, Monopol, Vanity Fair, and other publications. His works have been presented nationally and internationally. Major solo exhibitions have taken place at the Deichtorhallen Hamburg (2017) and the Berlin Nationalgalerie Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Berlin (2019) and caused a sensation. The artist has received numerous photography awards.

Curator: Dr. des. Kristina Lemke (Head of the Photography Collection, Städel Museum) in close cooperation with Andreas Mühe


Press images

Andreas Mühe (*1979)
The Stable, 2021
From the series: Chernobyl II
Chromogenic colour print
140 × 110 cm
Andreas Mühe
© Andreas Mühe, VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2021

Andreas Mühe, The Stable, 2021

Andreas Mühe (*1979)
Biorobot IV II, 2020
From the series: Chernobyl
Chromogenic colour print
140 × 110 cm
Andreas Mühe
© Andreas Mühe, VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2021

Andreas Mühe, Biorobot IV II, 2020

Andreas Mühe (*1979)
Mühe Head X, 2018
From the series: Mühe Head
Chromogenic colour print
12,7 × 10,2 cm
Andreas Mühe
© Andreas Mühe, VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2021

Andreas Mühe, Mühe Head X, 2018

Andreas Mühe (*1979)
Chalk Cliffs, 2014
From the series: New Romanticism
Chromogenic colour print
181,4 × 226,4 cm
Andreas Mühe
© Andreas Mühe, VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2021

Andreas Mühe, Kreidefelsen, 2014

Andreas Mühe (*1979)
Soldier at the Obersee, 2012
From the series: Obersalzberg
Chromogenic colour print
157,4 × 121,1 cm
Andreas Mühe
© Andreas Mühe, VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2021

Andreas Mühe, Soldier at the Obersee, 2012

Andreas Mühe (*1979)
Wandlitz B, 2011
From the series: Wandlitz
Chromogenic colour print
142,8 × 112,8 cm
Andreas Mühe
© Andreas Mühe, VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2021

Andreas Mühe, Wandlitz B, 2011

Andreas Mühe (*1979)
Wandlitz I, 2011
From the series: Wandlitz
Chromogenic colour print
142,8 × 112,8 cm
Andreas Mühe
© Andreas Mühe, VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2021

Andreas Mühe, Wandlitz I, 2011

Andreas Mühe (*1979)
Wandlitz J, 2011
From the series: Wandlitz
Chromogenic colour print
142,8 × 112,8 cm
Andreas Mühe
© Andreas Mühe, VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2021

Andreas Mühe, Wandlitz J, 2011

Andreas Mühe (*1979)
Under the Tree, 2008
Pigment print
167,7 × 135,8 cm
Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Eigentum des Städelschen Museums-Vereins e.V.
© Andreas Mühe, VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2021

Andreas Mühe, Under the Tree, 2008

Andreas Mühe
Photo: Stefan Heinrichs

Andreas Mühe
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