Florian Maier-Aichen

Florian Maier-Aichen was born in 1973 in Stuttgart, Germany. He studied at Högskolan för Fotografi och Film, Göteborg, Sweden; the University of Essen, Germany; and earned an MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles. Alternately romantic, cerebral, and unearthly, Florian Maier-Aichen’s digitally altered photographs are closer to the realm of drawing and fiction than documentation.

He embraces difficult techniques, chooses equipment that produces accidents such as light leaks and double exposures, and uses computer enhancements to introduce imperfections and illogical elements into images that paradoxically “feel” visually right, though they are factually wrong. Often employing an elevated viewpoint (the objective but haunting “God’s-eye view” of aerial photography and satellite imaging), Maier-Aichen creates idealized, painterly landscapes that function like old postcards.

Interested in places where landscape and cityscape meet, he chooses locations and subjects from the American West and Europe—from his own neighborhoods to vistas of the natural world. Looking backwards for his influences, Maier-Aichen often reenacts or pays homage to the work of the pioneer photographers of the nineteenth century, sometimes even remaking their subject matter from their original standpoints. Always experimenting, he marries digital technologies with traditional processes and films (black-and-white, color, infrared, and tricolor), restoring and reinvigorating the artistry and alchemy of early photography.

Maier-Aichen’s work has appeared in recent major exhibitions at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain (2008); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2007); and the Whitney Biennial (2006). Florian Maier-Aichen lives and works in Cologne, Germany, and Los Angeles.

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Built-In Mistakes

In this interview from 2008, conducted at the artist’s Los Angeles studio, Florian Maier-Aichen discusses his beginnings as an artist, the evolution of his hybrid practice, and his respect for nineteenth-century landscape photographers.