Michael Wolf – Paris Street View.

Street Life in Paris, from an Anthropological and Street Point of View

Michael Wolf – Paris Street View.

Michael Wolf – Paris Street View.


Keizersgracht 609
+ 31 (0)20 551 6500
Michael Wolf – Paris Street View
March 12-April 10, 2010

Foam_Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam, Communication Agency Vandejong and Virtueel Museum Zuidas present a special outdoor exhibition at the Zuidas Amsterdam by the internationally renowned photographer Michael Wolf. The exhibition consists of 24 extremely large-format works. The images can also be viewed on the CASZ Zuidas Art Screen.

Michael Wolf has concentrated on anthropological issues for years and he focuses on urban living in his work. Contemporary visual culture features prominently in the meaning of his work and subjects such as population density, privacy and voyeurism are recurrent themes. Paris Street View deals with the cultural identity of Paris. With the aid of Google Street View technology, Wolf investigates the concept of representation and symbolism. By using pixelated images from the internet, he breaks through Paris’ nearly universally recognisable photographic iconography and suggests a new way of reading the city. Two people embracing on a busy Paris street, for instance, are a playful reference to Robert Doisneau's ubiquitous Le Baiser de l’Hôtel de Ville from 1950. But cropping out parts of images on Google Street View, ‘photos of photos’ are created that shed a new light on a city in which nearly everything has already been photographed.

Michael Wolf (b. 1954, Munich) was born in Germany, grew up in the United States and has lived and worked in Hong Kong and Paris for the last ten years. Several books of his work have been published and he has won a first prize in the famed World Press Photo Contest.

The opening of Paris Street View coincides with the launch of Foam Magazine #22, Peeping. Wolf’s portfolio is featured in this issue. The exhibition is also the kick-off of the corporate partnership between Foam and De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek.

The exhibition fits in with the character of the area in Amsterdam called the Zuidas, and the transformation of this particular urban space. With the arrival of more and more companies, citizens, expats, and international visitors, this area is slowly being redeveloped into an international urban space where living, working and leisure come together. Amsterdam City Council supports the exhibition in order to further stimulate a lively atmosphere for art and living in the area. The Virtual Museum Zuidas (VMZ) has been founded on instigation by the redevelopment agency Zuidas Amsterdam in order to stimulate art and culture in the area. One of VMZ’s most important tasks is the realization of art in the public space. VMZ also focuses on its own, supporting projects and the stimulation of artistic and cultural initiatives by other parties.

Paris Street View is showing at the  Zuidas until 10 April 2010 (Zuidplein, Gustav Mahlerplein, Claude Debussylaan).

Michael Wolf – Paris Street View.

Michael Wolf – Paris Street View.

Michael Wolf, Transparent City # 39.

Chicago, Transparent through the Lens of a Munich Photographer

Michael Wolf, Transparent City # 46.

Michael Wolf, Transparent City # 85.

Michael Wolf, Transparent City # 88.


Museum of Contemporary Photography
600 South Michigan Avenue
Michael Wolf: The Transparent City
November 14, 2008-January 31, 2009

In 2005 Michael Wolf (German, b. 1956) visited Chicago for the first time to participate in a group exhibition for the Museum of Contemporary Photography. As he rode an elevated train from the airport into the city, he began to envision photographing Chicago.

For the previous decade, Wolf had been living and working in Hong Kong, attempting to capture the sheer density of people living on the two small islands that make up that city. Wolf examined the endless ranks of residential housing complexes in Hong Kong by removing the horizon line and flattening the space to a relentless abstraction of urban expansion. He noticed, however, that Chicago had an entirely different feel.

While Hong Kong is built of endless rows of structures designed and built in a nearly identical style, Chicago has more experimental, unique buildings of many different styles.

In 2007, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, in collaboration with the U.S. Equities Reality artist-in-residence program, invited Wolf to create his first body of work to address an American city.

Chicago is known for work by innovative architects such as David Adler, Daniel Burnham, Louis H. Sullivan, and Frank Lloyd Wright, and after World War II, it established itself as a world capital of modern architecture influenced by the international style of Mies van der Rohe and home to notable projects by Helmut Jahn, Philip Johnson, and more recently Frank Gehry.

While it has been common for photographers to glorify Chicago’s distinctive architecture and environmental context, Wolf depicts the city more abstractly, focusing less on individual well-known structures and more on the contradictions and conflicts between architectural styles when visually flattened together in a photograph.

His pictures look through the multiple layers of glass to reveal the social constructs of living and working in an urban environment, focusing specifically on voyeurism and the contemporary urban landscape in flux. Wolf explores the complex, sometimes blurred distinctions between private and public life in a city made transparent by his intense observation.

Michael Wolf was born in Munich, Germany. He grew up in the USA and studied at UC Berkley and at the University of Essen in Germany. He has been living and working as a photographer and author in China for ten years.

In addition to a wide spectrum of publications for international magazines, three books by him on China have been published to date: Sitting in China (published by Steidl, 2002) and China im Wandel (published by Frederking und Thaler,2001). Recently, Taschen published his documentation of the shaping of public politics and opinion making comprising his extensive collection of Chinese propaganda posters.

Wolf has been intensively concerned with the topic of vernacular culture for many years. His most recent work deals with the issue of the cultural identity of the city of Hong Kong. The exhibition Architecture of Density shown in New York in Febuary 2004 is a part of Michael Wolfs recent Hong Kong project.

Michael Wolf, Transparent City # 76.