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Florian Maier-Aichen in "Fantasy"

“Photography used to be like alchemy back in the nineteenth century,” says Florian Maier-Aichen, who uses the computer to introduce imperfections and detach his photographs from reality, bringing them closer to the realm of drawing.

Shown capturing his source images with a traditional large-format camera, the artist introduces painterly touches to his photographs with the aid of a digital stylus and tablet. “Illustration is just another level of abstracting,” he says, “it lifts you to another layer that is not necessarily linked to realism and it opens up your own world or your own myth-making.”

Inspired by the idealized quality of postcards and maps, the segment shows how the artist remakes images of landscapes, from a nostalgic nighttime scene of Stralsund in GDR times to epic vistas such as a pass in the Swiss Alps, ski slopes in the Sierras, Half Dome in Yosemite, and the failed St. Francis Dam near Santa Clarita.

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Florian Maier-Aichen

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.

“Illustration is just another level of abstracting. It lifts you to another layer that is not necessarily linked to realism and it opens up your own world or your own myth-making.”

Florian Maier-Aichen

13:43
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13:25
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Can a work of art that is abstract also be realistic? Can a work of art that is realistic also be abstract?

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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.

Florian Maier-Aichen

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Florian Maier-Aichen

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Florian Maier-Aichen

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