Josef Schulz

Colorful Seducers

Josef Schulz photographs the fronts of shopping malls, and assembles them to form extended, deserted panoramas. There is a sociological background to his series: the changes Western Europe’s urban environment is undergoing.

With the growing concentration of commerce and business, the familiar mix of public and private spaces in the inner-city areas is increasingly becoming distorted. Retailers as well as small and larger businesses are being squeezed out. And large, commercial centers spring up on the outskirts, where customers can intensely pursue their shopping needs “under a single roof”. Josef Schulz observed this development most clearly in France.

Shopping mall architecture does not try and mislead the viewer; it is functional, simple and modest. Façade design is influenced by the principles driving the modern world of products. Eye-catching surfaces compensate for the uniformity of industrially-produced goods: logos suggest quality, lettering that is visible from afar indicates the sender and depicts advertising messages, while striking, elementary colors are to tempt people into consuming.

Josef Schulz creates his panoramas from twenty to thirty single shots. He does not attempt to conceal the breaks in perspective this produces. “Not what you would call attractive buildings,” he comments. But his intention was not to document the current state of commercial architecture at the start of the 21st century. Instead, he wished to turn motifs that had not been used till then into subjects worthy of being photographed. His panoramas idealize reality: they develop an aesthetic that obeys its own laws.

Biographical information

1966

born in Bischofsburg (Poland)

1987–92

studied applied economics

since 1993

studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf under Prof. Bernd Becher

1999–2002

studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf under Prof. Thomas Ruff, master student

2001

award of the db architekturbild 2001 Competition
awarded European Photographer of Architecture 2001

2002

scholarship of the Stiftung Kunst und Kultur des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen

lives and works in Düsseldorf