René Mächler – At the Zero Point of Photography. Photographs and Photograms 1952 - 2004

2 September to 19 November 2006

  

René Mächler, who was born in Zurich in 1936 and is currently living in Zuzgen in Canton Aargau, has made an international name for himself as a consistent representative of "concrete photography". His work has been shown in exhibitions in Switzerland and abroad for many years, and he is represented in renowned public and private collections. Although concrete photography is highly regarded particularly in connection with contemporary art, it is only slowly beginning to gain public recognition as an independent artistic photographic orientation. It is therefore not surprising that René Mächler's unique photographic oeuvre, which is the result of a continuous creative process over the past 40 years, has only just begun to be fully appreciated.

Schwarzes Quadrat mit strahlendem Insert, 1991
© René Mächler /
Fotostiftung Schweiz

Horizont VI, 1997
© René Mächler /
Fotostiftung Schweiz

Weisses Quadrat IV, 1977/97
© René Mächler /
Fotostiftung Schweiz

Since his studies at the Staatliche Höhere Fachschule für Photographie in Cologne (1958-60), René Mächler has unfailingly continued along his artistic path. Although, for a long time, photography as the portrayal of visible reality formed the basis of his work, his interest in the formal aspects and the deliberate use of photographic techniques gradually became increasingly pronounced. Finally, he abandoned the camera altogether and began creating photographic works with purely visual means, inspired by Constructivism and László Moholy-Nagy's concept of "pure light design" of the 1920s. He also forsook the abstraction of reality and turned his attention to "concretions of the artistic possibilities inherent in photography" (Gottfried Jäger), and thus to images that resulted exclusively from the elements inherent in photography, light, and light-sensitive material.

Although the emphasis of Mächler's artistic work falls on his research into the fundamental elements of classical black-and-white photography in the "Infinite range between black and white", as one of his works is entitled, he always includes new technologies - which are at least related to photography - such as video and digital images in his rigorous, systematic visual research. With his photographic working methods, which are reduced to essentials, and his consistent aesthetic approach, René Mächler has created an extremely varied, condensed and rich artistic oeuvre: from the serial luminograms via the constructive photograms on themes connected with basic geometric forms and the "Reflections" on the theme of light itself, to the almost complete disintegration of the image in series such as "The disappearance of a square" (1998).

Although René Mächler's work is a solitaire in the landscape of Swiss photography, it is more relevant than ever in today's increasingly arbitrary and noncommittal digital frenzy of images: a strong, independent artistic stand, an attempt to "counter the chaos of this world with a system of pure elements and dynamic or balanced relationships” (Willy Rotzler).

Stunde Null, 1968
© René Mächler /
Fotostiftung Schweiz

Konstruktion, 1990
© René Mächler /
Fotostiftung Schweiz

Aus der Serie "Paysages de femme", 1961
© René Mächler /
Fotostiftung Schweiz

Publication:
Martin Gasser / Fotostiftung Schweiz, René Mächler - At the Zero Point of Photography. Photographs and Photograms 1952-2004. With texts by Martin Gasser, Hella Nocke-Schrepper, Gottfried Jäger, German / Englisch; approx. 200 b/w and color illustrations, hardcover, 224 pages, Niggli Verlag, Sulgen / Zurich 2006.