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On the Road
- © Stephan Erfurt
- © Stephan Erfurt
- © Stephan Erfurt
- © Stephan Erfurt
Erfurt's photographic career
Erfurt's photographic career began in 1980 in Vienna, where he observed the dancers at the Opera Ball, and a little later in Paris, where he took nighttime portraits of musicians in the branching corridors of the Metro. The medium soon began to fascinate him so much that he studied photography at the Gesamthochschule Essen in parallel. But Paris was just the beginning; in 1984 he moved on to New York's East Village, where Erfurt lived in a tiny loft. And America was and remained the young photographer's place of creation and center of life for five years - until the fall of the Berlin Wall.
In the mid-1980s, the magazine of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung became the client and buyer of his pictures and picture stories from the streets and restaurants of this legendary cultural melting pot and from his travels across the vast country. Whether in New York, Miami, Las Vegas or Los Angeles, he produced intensively researched reportages for the FAZ magazine everywhere, often accompanied by texts by Jordan Mejias. Inspired by Evelyn Hofer, for example, the "Wall Street" series was created in 1985, whose hard, sharply drawn contrasts of light and dark still inspire today.
Erfurt's "Wall Street" and "New York Restaurants" series
The black-and-white photographs were taken with a Polaroid slide film on a Sunday morning; the otherwise bustling metropolis seems completely deserted. Structures and traces in the asphalt, the wandering points of light caused by light reflections from the surrounding skyscrapers, and the cars parked at the side of the street fill the deserted, almost dystopian situation. In the parallel series "New York Restaurants" we also encounter people, but they disappear again in a timeless atmospheric blur. Only a year later, after a conversation with his colleague Joel Meyerowitz, Erfurt immerses everything in color; first for a second restaurant series in New York, his first publication in FAZ magazine, and shortly thereafter in Miami with the pastel Art Deco colorfulness so characteristic there. Also in 1986, in Las Vegas, the colors are now even clearer. The natural light of the sky shines in the photographs just as much as the artificial light of the colored neon lamps of the motels and gambling halls. He exploited the creative possibilities of color slide film like few colleagues, in a wide variety of lighting situations, especially early morning in the twilight shots that became his specialty. This, in turn, links him to the work of Joel Meyerowitz, whose photographs of Provincetown in the 1970s and 1980s, with their intense local color, are being shown publicly for the first time in parallel on the first floor of the Foundation
Erfurt was always able to adapt perfectly to the different situations on location - and to the corresponding assignment. At the same time, he worked on freelance projects, which he offered to the FAZ magazine. Some were accepted, others remained unpublished, such as the 1989 series of images of what he called the "urban jungle", which marked the end of his time in New York. During his active time in America, Stephan Erfurt inserted black-and-white and color films of different light sensitivities into his cameras, he alternated between medium format and 35mm, and in parallel he used Polaroids.
Close connection: the Museum of Photography and C/O Berlin
With the surprising end of FAZ magazine in 1999, Erfurt also lost the main buyer of his photographs and at the same time ended his restless life. Only a short time later, he and two like-minded people developed the idea for a new, contemporary exhibition space for photography: C/O Berlin. In the meantime, the renowned institution resides in the former Amerika-Haus and, together with the Museum für Fotografie, forms a photographic cluster that is unique in Germany - and this exhibition once again manifests the close connection between the two institutions.
A special exhibition of the Berlin Helmut Newton Foundation at the Museum of Photography, National Museums in Berlin.
Runtime: Fri, 13/08/2021 to Sun, 16/01/2022
Reduced price: €5.00
Takes place here:
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