Axel Hütte is the covert Romantic and ‘landscape painter’ among today’s premier-league photographers known as the Düsseldorf School. As an explorer would, Hütte traveled to Alaska, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Australia, South Africa, Brazil, Germany, America, Kauai and Maui in the past eight years in search for the perfect picture. Armed with patience and a traditional large-format camera, he has waited until weather, season, light and allover conditions were just right at the same time. All these landscapes have a distant and unreal quality. Be it the glaciers with their magical blue gleam or the lush green opulence of sub-tropical jungles, all images are seductively beautiful and equally complicated.
In my work I tackle various genres: architecture, portraits and landscapes. Even though the pieces are very different from each other, they do have something in common, and this is perhaps more understandable if we speak about the procedure of decisions. During the last years the landscape photography became a priority issue.
I have visited different continents. I have been traveling and that means to move and to contemplate things. But sometimes, when you are contemplating a landscape that you have already seen for hours, there is a sudden moment in which you stop.
And it doesn’t have to mean that the nature of the landscape has come to an expression, but there was an irritation that has led to this stop. And it is not explainable, because the mystery or the secret of the situation was actually in itself.
This is the moment to pick. Yet before you have seen already hundreds or even thousands of possible picks which you have discarded, because they weren’t convincing enough. Each of my photographs share something. They give the reality not as a whole but they show excerpts or fragments and this visual reduction stimulates the imagination of the viewer, who receives the actual image in his brain. This idea is easier to understand in misty or night shots, but also in the last series of portraits, that is a reflected reality, as the portrayed women are reflections in the water. Not until the second glance is recognizable that the elements of the picture that are partly blurred are produced by the movement of the water and not by digital treatment. The result is an irritation of the perception. Of course there are aspects of romanticism, the beauty and the sublime, that art historians attach to my work; aspects which can be found both in the photographs and in the conception of the emptiness, the nothingness and the timeless.
Axel Hütte, The Thinking Eye – The Thinking I
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