Gustave Courbet’s „l’Atelier du peintre“ is one of the masterpieces of French art, an enormous canvas measuring 6m x 3.6m that is being restored in situ at the Musée d’Orsay by a team of 12 experts. As part of the restoration group, I am documenting the process, people and surroundings of the work as well as taking several photos of the painting itself in ultra-high resolution. Because the painting remains in the museum, surrounded by a cage of glass to let the spectators participate in the art of restoring, the documentation of the progress is technically quite demanding and requires that I work very closely with the restorers as they immerse themselves in their own exceptionally demanding and exhausting work. Some of the photos are displayed on the glass frame for the public to see, and others have appeared in magazine and newspaper articles about the restoration.

 

COURBET

I was in a beautiful hotel above Lake Como for a shoot when I watched the “Blair Witch Project” for the first time. After it was over, I switched off the television and fell sleep. I woke in the middle of the night to strange sounds: a sizzling, crackling noise was coming from the television, though I had not switched it on and there was no picture. Some geometrical forms began to appear through the static and from time to time the reception improved and I could see shadows of people and things on the screen. I spent the rest of the night taking photos of what I saw.

BLAIR WITCH COMO

Wolfsburg is a young city, founded in 1938 as the home of Volkswagen. In 2013 the city celebrated its 75th anniversary with a book focusing on the people of Wolfsburg, people who have lived there since its founding as well as new residents who give the city its contemporary face and character. I was surprised by how many people wanted to be photographed and tell the story of their relationship with Wolfsburg. Most people were positive about the city – „their city“ – and had positive feelings about their employer, almost always Volkswagen. In the end it took me nearly a year to take pictures of more than 500 people, some of them with their family or friends, some alone. Though the photos appear to be studio shots, they were all taken in public places, and residents often approached a shoot, interested to tell their stories in pictures as well as words. The final act was an exhibition of a selection of these pictures where the book was launched.

WOLFSBURG

 

text by

BRIAN NOONE