Photographer Christian Voigt lives in Hamburg and the South of France. Born in 1961, Voigt studied in Berlin and Vancouver and then worked in film and publishing.
Extensive travels and photo documentaries were the first step to record impressions and to transform them artistically. With his unique visual language and state-of-the-art technology, he developed a distinctive style that early on attracted the interest of art institutions, critics and collectors. International public exhibitions in Paris, Madrid, Milan, Dubai, San Francisco, New York, among others, enabled him to present his work to a wide audience, successfully establishing himself in the art world within a few years. His large-format, strictly limited series are an integral part of international collections of renowned public and private institutions.
A traveller between worlds
Someone once wrote that you cannot pass by Christian Voigt’s photographs without stopping for a closer look. All his images capture your eye and your attention. First you are taken aback, then you are drawn in. And you need to step closer to identify the cause. How can a subject you have encountered a thousand times before suddenly seem so fresh and new, as if seen for the first time? And you begin to marvel with childlike amazement at the beauty of the world. This is how first-time viewers of Christian Voigt’s work respond to his monumental, hyper-realistic landscape and architectural photography. Initially, the images feel familiar. But there is that sense of puzzlement. And the more the beholder attempts to come to grips with the source of that puzzlement, the further they are transported on a hallucinatory journey into the depth of the surface of things. To gain a deeper understanding of his pictures, it is vital to embrace Christian Voigt’s unique visual language and photographic technique — which seek to show more than the eye can typically see. To this end, Christian Voigt uses the maximum of what is technically possible: he works and experiments exclusively with large-format cameras, and has explored, tested and stretched their capabilities to their limits. As a result, his monumental panoramas, with their razor-sharp details and surreally good lighting, are never just about capturing a moment in time. Christian Voigt’s work is the culmination of a painstakingly planned series of large-format exposures, often taken over many hours, and testing the boundaries of available photographic equipment. These exposures are subsequently layered and exposed again, and finally printed on paper to create a single, merged image by means of a long, laborious process. This creates a hyperrealist, distinct world somewhere betwixt photography and photorealistic painting: A world we think we know, but that is puzzling in a way that is hard to pin down. Because we are seeing the world in surreal perfection that only exists in Christian Voigt images: panoramic landscapes from all four corners of the world, where the viewer cannot help but doubt that the spectacular lighting and mood were really “found” in real life. The result is architectural images of subjects such as New York Central Park or the Burj Khalifa that have been snapped millions of times, but now feel fresh and unfamiliar: as if you were seeing them for the first time. And the now iconic series of library and museum interiors whose austerity and beauty communicate and concentrate Christian Voigt’s worldview as if viewed through a magnifying glass. Most recent are his incredibly powerful Himalaya photos, taken at an altitude of 6000 meters, and which, by the artist’s own admission, took him to his limits, physical and otherwise. Born in Munich, and with homes in Hamburg and the South of France, Christian Voigt is a restless traveler, always in search of the ‘city beyond the hills.’ Travel is his life’s purpose, encounters are his life’s elixir, the search for beauty his life’s motif — underpinned by perfectionism, bordering on obsession. These are the keys to his unfathomably sumptuous images of landscapes and architecture, his unmistakable photographic technique, and visual language — that have catapulted him to rapidly growing, international fame, and made his works sought-after acquisitions in an increasing number of private collections. For Christian Voigt the artist, it would probably make sense to leave his unique visual language unaltered, and to simply collect new images on new travels to new locations. But for Christian Voigt the traveler, that it is not an option. It would feel as if he had come to the end of the road. “To me, the purpose of travel is the journey itself, not reaching a certain location. As a traveler, as a human being, and as a photographer, I don’t want to be at a point where I say: I’ve reached my destination. This is where I am going to stay.” True to this philosophy, Christian Voigt undertook a journey into a completely new world of imagery in 2018 — one where he remains true to his technical means and methods, but opens up his visual language quite radically. His ‘Evolution’ series comprises monumental, large-format, pitch-black portrayals of prehistoric skeletons. However, these are no longer heightened depictions of reality, but a systematic staging of it. Christian Voigt has expanded his stylistic vocabulary to include a new perspective. He no longer looks into the distance. Instead, he looks at the detail. Follow-up projects to ‘Evolution’ are already under way. So we can wonder expectantly where Christian Voigt’s future journeys will take us. One thing is certain: they will be places that lie somewhere between our own world and Christian Voigt’s reality, of a kind never seen before.