Günther Förg

Architecture and Longing

Günther Förg took up photography at the beginning of the 1980s. He was already acquainted with the Malaparte residence from the “Domus” architectural journal and Jean-Luc Godard’s film, “Le Mépris”. And thus, with camera in hand (and he had only just bought it) he set forth for Italy. At the same time, he began to develop an interest in architecture. The first house that he photographed was the villa on Capri which the Italian poet Curzio Malaparte had commissioned the architect Adalberto Libera to build for him back in 1938-40.

Förg’s decision to work in Italy was influenced by the fact that is was not far from Munich where he had studied painting in 1973-9. Ludwigstrasse in that city is based on the Florentine notion of architecture and longing. King Ludwig I of Bavaria sent his architects to study in Italy. “But if Ludwigstrasse is there before your eyes every day of the week, you simply do not think of photographing it,” Günther Förg narrates. “There has to be a foreign element somehow.”

What interested Förg most was the fact that Italian “Rationalismo“ architecture had since emerged as a received international style, which he subsequently encountered in Germany, the United States, Czechoslovakia, and Moscow – testimonies in stone to a dark past. The windows his camera pull into focus incriminate everything that could possibly be seen through them – and much of what you cannot see besides. Yet these neoclassicist facades also appeal to Günther Förg for their clear lines: they allow him to enrich the formal idiom of his painting by means of motifs drawn from his photography.

Biographical information

1952

born in Füssen

1996

received Wolfgang-Hahn-Preis

1998

Professor of painting at the Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung Karlsruhe

since 1999

Professor of painting and graphic arts at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Berlin

2013

died in Freiburg