Ralf Kaspers* (born in 1957)

07.01.2012 in15:51 in Miscellaneous -->


For the first time in Russia, Moscow Museum of Modern Art presents solo exhibition of German photographer Ralf Kaspers. Born in 1957 in Düsseldorf, he studied photography and graphic arts at the Academy of Visual Arts (Düsseldorf) in 1977-1982. It is no wonder that Kaspers joined smoothly the famous Düsseldorf school of conceptual photography. Moscow has already seen exhibitions of its best known representatives, Bernd and Hilla Becher (2010), and Andreas Gursky (2008). This row is logically continued with a retrospective of works by Ralf Kaspers that demonstrates over 25 large-scale photographs, including pieces executed during the current year.

Ralf Kaspers explores a great variety of subjects. On the one hand, he is attracted to monumental themes, such as nature, cityscapes and architecture found in different places on the planet, from Tokyo to New York and from Bangkok to Serengeti National Park. Trademark views shot by Kaspers include several grandiose ‘ceremonial’ buildings like the Stonehenge, the New York Stock Exchange or the Moscow Luzhniki Stadium. On the other hand, the photographer is interested in a contrary thing, which is the ornamental microcosm consisting of innumerable combinations of identical small objects. Anything can be scrutinized through the camera lens – flies, black caviar, clipped fingernails, empty cartridges, massive gold bars, bullets for the Kalashnikov gun, 500-euro banknotes…

Where lies the secret of unity of this miscellaneous world? The constant change of themes and subjects enables the author to examine the most important artistic categories, such as form, texture, and rhythm. However, the concentration on pictorial qualities doesn’t interfere with the artist’s favor of ‘eternal’ issues of good and evil, religious beliefs, historical guilt or temptations of fortune. Kaspers treats the latter theme in different ways, including panoramic views of trading rooms in the stock exchanges of New York, Tokyo and Frankfurt (2007), compositions with black caviar or gold bars (2008), the ‘stronghold’ entitled One Million Euros (2007), and so on. The artist is also concerned with the problem of historical morality: one of his best known works, Document F321 (2007), is a photo of the tattered report on German concentration camps, which was prepared for the Nuremberg Trials. This being mentioned, in Kaspers’ works moral aspects are strictly separated from the issues of form; just so, Document F321 is floating in the picture plane and thus falls out of its historical context, turning into a nearly abstract phenomenon. The same principle acts in Luzhniki Stadium (2008). Here a real place is depicted, but digital effects allow the clear geometry to play its part: the combination of square, circle and ovoid forms seems to be the most impressive one.

In this photo the stadium is deserted, while in other works by Ralf Kaspers people may appear. They are rarely portrayed in detail, but rather stand in crowds before the Stonehenge rocks or the Kremlin wall. The spectator may easily feel like one of the characters, by virtually violating the boundaries of the image and entering its space. This experience awaits the visitors of the present exhibition at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, which discovers new facets in Ralf Kaspers’ creation and provides a deeper insight into his fascinating figural universe.

Partner of the exhibition — Quintessentially