Marcus Gaab lives and works in Berlin and New York. He is one of the most important contemporary German photographers. Working on an international level, he’s left an indelible mark on all of the major fashion and design magazines. His style is sublime, sometimes edgy, often with a touch of humor. Marcus Gaab enjoys collecting images, always placing them in new contexts. He is the publisher of the internationally acclaimed magazines I LOVE YOU and ENDLESS.
- *1970, lives and works in Berlin und New York
- Diploma Photography, Folkwang University, Essen, 1996
- Publications: I LOVE YOU magazine, ENDLESS magazine
- Regular contributor to the New York Times Magazine, T and Nowness
“You can get From Here To There”, found Galerie, Hamburg 2008/09
“Weird Beauty” (Group), International Center of Photography, New York 2008/09
“Der große Betrüger”, Kunstwerke, Berlin 2002 + Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin 2002 + Colette, Paris 2003
“My interest in photography has always come from a conceptual background, the craft. Aesthetic images don’t interest me at all“
Your CV is pretty impressive.
And it’s pretty short (laughs). What’s interesting about my resume is that it’s so simple. I studied at the Folkwang University in Essen and during my studies I was able to photograph big international campaigns.Even then, Christiane [Bördner] and I were trying to break new ground – we “published” the first fashion catalog on CD-ROM with digital photography, which was still a novelty at the time.
When do you know you have a good motif in front of you?
The decision is that it is an image. (long pause) Most important is that you’re in the landscape at the right time and the right place. The apparatus – I like “apparatus” – or, the camera, takes the picture, so photography alone is not so difficult.
And when, for example, “nothing” happens in front of the camera because you’re standing in the middle of a landscape?
Then there’s a feeling that something exciting will happen – or you take more photos. The act of photography, the moment when you take a photograph, there’s only the camera and your eye. Basically, you have to indulge in the thing.The question of “why,” of why at exactly this moment I pressed the shutter button, is more important than the motif. The biography of a photographer – that’s what makes the photograph and it is really exciting. The viewer wants to know what was going on with the photographer and what led him to photograph this image at this moment.
How did the works for BLACK IRIS come about?
The idea for our travel magazine ENDLESS developed during a family road trip through California. That’s where my work titled Zabriskie Point originated in the summer of 2012, right at the famous spot where Michelangelo Antonioni made his eponymous film. This little piece of the earth is incredibly impressive emotionally. I also photographed Coloured Canyon nearby, another image from the portfolio for BLACK IRIS. You can see a part of the desert in it, but this time after sunset, which even better conveys the mystic nature of the location.
What makes a work high quality?
If a work is to attain a certain level of quality, it’s important that it asks more questions than it answers. It shouldn’t be disenchanting. I like working with references. People need them as a guide. Ideal images are also dreamscapes that could be painted.
I see an incredible number of books in your office, are you a collector?
I like collecting a lot of things – books, magazines, places, people, photographs. I never just make one single image. I’m fascinated by abundance, consumption. Bataille believes that there is too much solar energy that you have to somehow use. Maybe my approach has something to do with that.Working from the inside out at any given time, that’s what I like. Only at my own exhibition, “You Can Get from Here to There,” was the moment when I stopped creating a whole picture. That’s pretty exciting. And this whole picture can be arranged again and again.