ARTISTS / Contemporary art
Elger Esser

Available works
Elger Esser
Elger Esser; Portrait by Nicolas Cattelain
1967born in Stuttgart
1991-97studied photography at the Düsseldorf Art Academy
1996Master student with Bernd Becher
1998Award for Fine Arts of the City of Düsseldorf
2006-09Professor for media art at the State Academy of Design in Karlsruhe
2010Rhineland Art Prize of the Rhein-Sieg District, Siegburg
2016Oskar Schlemmer Prize of the State of Baden-Württemberg
 lives and works in Düsseldorf
 Solo exhibitions (selection)
2020Musée de la Mer,Ile Sainte Marguerite, Cannes, France
Inherent time, Bruce Silverstein, New York, USA
2019De Sérignant à Giverny, Tour46, Belfort, France
L'autre côte du vent, Elger Esser and Felix Schramm, Kunsthaus Lempertz, Brussels, Belgium
Morgenland, Fondation Fernet Branca, Saint-Louis, France
2018Oeuvres choisies, Bae Bien-U, Elger Esser, Galerie RX, Paris, France
Galleria Alessandra Bonomo, Rome, Italy
2017Du Nil à la Loire, Chateau de Chaumont, Chaumont sur Loire, France
El tiempo en suspenso, Patio Herreriano, Valladolid, Spain
Morgenland, Schirmer/Mosel Showroom, Munich, Germany
Elger Esser - De sublime, Fondazione Stelline, Milan, Italy
Morgenland, Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art, London, England
Elger Esser - Aetas, Landesgalerie Linz. Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Linz, Austria.
2016From Shivta to Lifta, Loushy Art & Projects, Tel Aviv, Israel
Elger Esser - Zeitigen, Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, Germany
2015Cabinet de travail, Katz Contemporary, Zurich, Switzerland
2014Combray, The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, Tampa, USA
Nimfees i Ondines, Fundació Palma Espai d'art, Casal Solleric, Palma de Mallorca, Spain
Ninfa, Sonnabend Gallery, New York, USA
2013Giverny, Pôle Image Haute-Normandie, Rouen, France
Giverny, Schirmer/Mosel Showroom, Munich, Germany
Méséglise, Institute for Modern Art Nuremberg, Nuremberg, Germany
 Group exhibitions (selection)
2022Moments of Seeing - 4 photographic positions, Galerie Schlichtenmaier, Stuttgart, Germany
2021Looking Forward - Moving into the 2020s, Galerie Schlichtenmaier, Schloss Dätzingen, Germany
2020Mediatons Biennale Polska, Warsaw, District Hall Warsaw i Cukry Praga, Poland
NEAR - FAR, Cosar HMT, Düsseldorf, Germany
BLUE, Loushy Art & Projects, Tel Aviv, Israel
Seria Gracioso, TEA Las Catalinas, Costa Rica
In the Garden of Colors, PEAC, Paul Ege Art Collection, Freiburg i. Br. , Germany
The Staging of Nature in Works of the Würth Collection, Würth Collection, Chur, Switzerland
The Sonnabend Collection, Remai Modern, Saskatoon, Canada
The Illusion of Reality - Photographic Positions, Galerie Schlichtenmaier Stuttgart, Germany
2019Light Sensitive 2, Photography from the Schaufler Collection, Schauwerk Sindelfingen, Germany
Oeuvres Choisies, Galerie RX, Paris, France
Land and Water, Galerie de Zaal, Delft, Netherlands
L'invention d'un monde - Photographies des collections Robelin, FRAC - Auvergne., Clermont Ferrand, France
Between Proximity and Distance: Construction of Realities. From Goya to Picasso, Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, Germany
The Moment is Eternity - Works from the Olbricht Collection, me Collectors Room Berlin
As Far as the Eye Can See, Museum Würth, Künzelsau, Germany
2018A Look at the Collection: Landscape - Transformation - Space, SK Stiftung Kultur, Cologne, Germany
Geste 2018, Binary / Non-Binary, Geste Paris, Paris, France
The Pulse Of The Body. Uses And Representations Of Space, Bombas Gens, Valencia, Spain
The Sonnabend Collection: Half a Century of European and American Art. Part II, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto, Portugal
Unleashed Nature, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany
Water & Wine, New Presentation of Collection I, Museum Kurhaus Kleve, Germany
Bernd, Hilla and the Others, HUIS MARSEILLE, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Rooms of the Others II, Villa Streccius, Landau, Germany
2017Esser.McCaw.Mann.Wylie,, Neal Guma Fine Arts, Charlottesville, USA
Luther and the Avant-Garde, Contemporary Art in Wittenberg, Berlin and Kassel, Old Prison, Wittenberg, Germany
Water, Clouds, Wind, Kunsthalle Würth, Schwäbisch Hall, Germany
Split - Mirror. Light. Reflection, SCHAUWERK Sindelfingen, Germany
2016On Escape and Concurrence: Inverting the Gaze, Espaço Novo Banco, Lisbon, Portugal
Water, Clouds, Wind., Kunsthalle Würth, Schwäbisch Hall, Germany
Viehof Collection, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, Germany
Split - Mirror. Light. Reflection, SCHAUWERK Sindelfingen, Germany
Langmatt, Light, Dragonflies - Impressionism Today?, Museum Langmatt, Baden, Germany
From the collection: Landscape. Landesgalerie Linz, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Linz, Austria
The Typological View - Exhibition for Hilla Becher., Photographic Collection/SK Foundation for Culture, Cologne, Germany
Gardens of the World., Museum Rietberg, Zurich, Switzerland
Monet's Gardens. Contemporary Photographs., Eutin Castle, Eutin, Germany.
2015Fascination Photography., Essl Museum, Klosterneuburg, Vienna, Austria
Déjà vu in photographic art., ART FOYER, DZ BANK Art Collection, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Foucault - Plossu - Shore., Musée des impressionnismes Giverny, Giverny, France
Eolie 1950/2015. mare motus., Chiesa di Santa Caterina ed ex carcere, Lipari, Italy
The Idea of Landscape., ART FOYER, DZ Bank Art Collection, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Open Rhapsody. A journey into photography and video collections, Beirut Exhibition Center, Beirut, Lebanon
Landscape in my Mind - Landscape photography today., Kunstforum Wien, Vienna, Austria
Looks into the past

Elger Esser's photographic works seem to have fallen out of time, as if they were taken in the early years of photografie in the 19th century. But appearances are deceptive: it is a long way from the old photographic art to C-print, not to mention the technical inventions of Esser himself - for example, in his use of silver-plated copper plates and shellacfirnis. Born in Stuttgart, he had the pleasure of 'guesting' at the Villa Massimo in Rome as a young boy: His father, Manfred Esser, who with Max Bense and Reinhard Döhl was one of the fathers of the concrete Stuttgart School, had taken up his fellowship there in 1969. Perhaps the photographic gaze was shaped there; even as a child, one will experience that in Rome one always lives in at least three time periods - antiquity, Renaissance, modernity. The yearning view of Romania, especially France, was certainly influenced by his French mother, a press photographer: Esser lives in Düsseldorf, but the neighboring country may well be considered his artistic adopted home. This is obvious given his retrospective view and his preoccupation with photografie history - France is, after all, the country of origin for photographers. Esser owns one of the largest private collections of around 25,000 historical photographic postcards. From this, he creates a photografisch oeuvre of mostly monumental proportions, in the style of these postcards, some of which are also templates for his own heliogravures. This effect alone is grandiose. Esser does not seek out the tourist highlights, but rather river landscapes, bridges, the vastness of the province: a lot of water, a lot of sky - and in between, almost dreamy houses, castles, stretches of nature. This work is removed from time, since without a legend the viewer would not be able to tell when the photograph was taken - 1860, 1900, or 2020. And the work also seems removed from place, since even the concrete references in the title are put into perspective, since they compete not with photos from travel guides but with the fictive place of Combray, the place where Marcel Proust had his epochal novel In Search of Lost Time begin. This is the unmistakable characteristic of Esser's work. In their sepia tones, his photografies breathe this unreal flair of the old days, as if it were a matter of translating Proust's novel pictorially. With this aesthetic of the essentially unspectacular, Esser makes a singular appearance; within the legendary but rather matter-of-fact "Düsseldorf School" around Bernd and Hilla Becher, he is an exotic alongside Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Thomas Ruff, and Thomas Struth. Esser knows how to capture the magic of a place on the surface of elaborate image carriers. "In my work I live in another time" - he revives it for the viewer, in all its beauty. This time, however, can only be preserved through its re-creation in the work of art, which is how one could paraphrase the photographer's credo.
Schloss Dätzingen / D-71120 Grafenau
T + 49 (0) 70 33 / 4 13 94
F + 49 (0) 70 33 / 4 49 23
Opening hours
Wednesday – Friday 11 – 18.30
Saturday 11 – 16
or by appointment
Kleiner Schlossplatz 11 / D-70173 Stuttgart
T + 49 (0) 711 / 120 41 51
F + 49 (0) 711 / 120 42 80
Opening hours
Tuesday – Friday 11 – 19
Saturday 11 – 17
or by appointment

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