Elger Esser, Stuttgart 1967

  • Elger Esser

    Stuttgart 1967

Born in Stuttgart in 1967, the German photographer Elger Esser spent his youth in Rome before returning to Germany. There he worked as a commercial photographer, and from 1991 until 1997, he studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf under Bernd and Hilla Becher, who had also trained Andreas Gursky and Thomas Struth. A trip to Lyon in 1996 was especially formative for the artist, and from that point on Esser embraced a practice centred on travel to what he calls “archaic locales in the middle of nowhere” and on the aesthetic of antique postcards, which had from childhood captured his imagination. Esser’s subsequent sojourns across Europe resulted in his Vedutas and Landscapes series, which centre both natural and built environments, from the tranquil river in Marne (1997) to the urban architecture of Naples in Matera I (1998). Marcel Proust’s descriptions of Combray in A la recherché du temps perdu, inspired a 2007 series named for the French town, in which Esser superimposed Chromogenic prints upon nostalgic héliogravures. Esser’s lyrical photographs of pale but luminous landscapes conjure a host of references to art of the past, from the work of the earliest practitioners of his own medium to the romanticism of Caspar David Friedrich to the landscapes of Dutch Golden Age painters, invoking a past that is present, and evoking a sense of the sublime. Esser currently lives and works in Düsseldorf.