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Michael Wesely

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Michael Wesely
Born1963 (age 60–61)
OccupationArt photographer
Known forSpecial ultra-long exposure technique

Michael Wesely (born 1963 in Munich)[1] is a German art photographer who is best known for his photos of cities, buildings, landscapes, and still lives of flowers taken with a special ultra-long exposure technique. Michael Wesely lives and works in Berlin.



From 1986 to 1988, Michael Wesely attended the Bayerische Staatslehranstalt für Photographie at Munich, before taking up studies at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts with Heribert Sturm and James Reineking.



Wesely employed a self-made special pinhole camera for photographing scenes of profound and quick development such as the reconstruction of Berlin Potsdamer Platz in the years after the fall of the Berlin Wall in the late 1990s.[2] In contrast, he later made pictures of still East German and American landscapes showing wide fields and the sky above.[3] During the reconstruction of New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Wesely took photos recording the change in architecture.[4][5] This was called the Open Shutter project, shown at the MoMA in 2004.[6] Together with Lina Kim, he later photographed the Brazilian capital Brasília.[7]



Wesely's works deal with the subject of time and the change that takes place over time.[2] Due to the extremely long exposure and the special bulb he uses, those elements that move the least dominate his images, while those moving will later be seen as transparent figures or the outlines of newly erect buildings overlapping. The pictures "reveal the passage of time by showing the changing skyline, the skeletons of cranes. the rise of new buildings, and the disappearance of others. Beams of sunlight, the residue of the ever-changing positions (tithe earth and sun, are also evident, like a palimpsest of seasons".[2] Everything that ever happened on the scene during exposure (during weeks, months, or even up to two[2] or three years[8]) will be seen in one single picture.[9] Wesely's photographs have been described as a metaphor on the change of Berlin after 1989 because "at once strikingly energetic and ghostly and uninhabited. This formal paradox aptly describes Berlin, which had only been unified for ten years at the time the images were taken. In that way, the photographs offer a larger commentary on time's passage."[2]


  • 1995: Scholarship by the German Academic Exchange Service DAAD for the Netherlands
  • 1996: Work scholarship of the Stiftung Kunstfonds at Bonn
  • 1999: Scholarship for United States by the Free State of Bavaria

Selected publications

  • Vereinte Versicherung AG (ed.): Michael Wesely, American landscape. Storms. Munich. 2000. ISBN 3-927533-26-2
  • Galerie Fahnemann. Autor Philippe van Cauteren (eds.): Ostdeutschland = East Germany. König. Köln. 2004. ISBN 3-88375-849-3
  • Time works. Schirmer Mosel. Munich. 2010. ISBN 978-3-8296-0513-7
  • Hubertus von Amelunxen, Ludwig Seyfarth, Dorothee von Windheim: Michael Wesely Portraits 1988–2013. Distanz. Berlin. 2013. ISBN 978-3-95476-043-5


  1. ^ If not noted otherwise, all biographical information is taken from Michael Wesely (German, 1963), Biography on artnet. Retrieved on 8 May 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e Rachel Somerstein: "Le Mois De La Photo a Montreal: September 5 – October 5, 2013" Archived 10 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine. Afterimage 41, no. 4. 2014.
  3. ^ Michael Wesely's pictures of East German and American landscapes at Fahnemann projects, Berlin. Retrieved on 20 April 2014.
  4. ^ Matt Nestor: Rare Photos of NYC's Museums Under Construction. In: Gizmodo. 4 January 2014. Retrieved on 20 April 2014.
  5. ^ Michael Wesely's pictures as seen in the MoMA collection, retrieved on 20 April 2014.
  6. ^ Jérôme Delgado: Le nouveau MoMA: toujours la pretention d'etre au sommet.(New York; expansion plans of New York Museum of Modern Art). 1 March 2005. Retrieved on 20 April 2014 on Highbeam Research via The Wikipedia Library.
  7. ^ Niklas Maak: Raum ohne Schatten. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. 4 September 2011. Retrieved on 20 April 2014 (book review of: Lina Kim, Michael Wesely: Arquivo Brasília. Cosac & Naify. 2010).
  8. ^ Michael Wesely Archived 21 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Walter Storms Galerie. Retrieved on 20 April 2014.
  9. ^ Guilherme Wisnik: Michael Wesely. Langzeitbelichtung und die trübe Dimension der kontemporären Stadt Archived 10 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine. Darmstädter Tage der Fotografie. 2010. Retrieved on 20 April 2014.