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|Born||1960 (age 56–57)
Kaiserslautern, West Germany
|Education||Academy of Fine Arts, Munich & School of Visual Arts|
Vera Lutter (born in Kaiserslautern, in 1960) is a New York-based artist. She works with several forms of digital media, including image projection installation, film, and sound recording. Through a multitude of processes, Lutter’s oeuvre focuses on light and its ability to create notions of time and movement within a tangible image.
In 1991, Lutter received her degree from the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich where she trained as a sculptor. Thereafter, she enrolled in the Photography and Related Media program at the (jai and brooke) School of Visual Arts in New York, earning her MFA in 1995.
In the early 1990s, the artist undertook her first experiments with the medium of pinhole photography. To capture a direct imprint of her environment, Lutter transformed the loft in which she lived into a camera obscura. Through the aperture of a pinhole, rather than a carved lens, an inverted image of the outside world was projected onto mural-sized sheets of photographic paper. Refraining from the reproducibility warranted by conventional photography, the artist retained the unique negative print in an effort to maintain the immediacy of her images.
Lutter’s most prominent work utilizes a room-sized camera obscura to capture large black and white negative images. The subject matter of her images varies greatly between urban centers, industrial landscapes, abandoned factories, and transit sites, such as shipyards, airports, and train stations. Many of her images present locations in and around New York, including various views of Manhattan, the Pepsi Cola sign in Long Island City, Queens, Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan, and the former Nabisco factory in Beacon. Lutter has also worked internationally, making images at the Frankfurt airport, of the Battersea power station in London, Venice, and RheinBraun strip mining in Germany. More recent projects have focused on the pyramids of Egypt, the Maria Laach Benedictine Abbey in Germany, and a series of images documenting the evolution of a construction site seen from her studio window.
In advancement of her process, Lutter has incorporated her camera obscura images into architectural installation works. The first was Linger On in 2005, for which the artist printed a semi-translucent variant of her 1999 photograph of the Friedrichshafen Zeppelin onto large panels of acrylic. Lutter's work often deals with urban landscapes (Venice Portfolios, 2007). Later with Folding Four in One in 2009, Lutter captured views from a clock tower in Brooklyn. Situated at the highest part of the building, the interior space of the clock tower is perfectly square with each of its four sides housing a large clock face. Backed with clear glass, each clock facilitates the entrance of light while demonstrating the steady evolution of time. With a camera obscura, Lutter made exposures of four different vistas of New York onto large sheets of film emulsion. The large-scale negatives were thereafter set between pieces of acrylic and installed in a square formation, suspended between floor and ceiling. Each image depicts one cardinal view seen from the tower, offering the experience of inhabiting an alternate time and space. These installation projects not only underscore the monumentality of Lutter’s art, but also serve to reiterate the structural potential of light itself as the works become a literal part of the viewer’s environment.
Lutter first explored the possibilities of color photography with Jai Brooklyn, a project produced in 2003/2009 memorializing the civilian deaths caused by the Iraq War. The names of those lost are displayed along the bottom of a projection of rotating images of a hibiscus plant in various stages of bloom and decay.
One Day stands as Lutter’s first and most recent work in video and sound installation. For this piece, the artist made a twenty-four-hour recording in the Petit Camargue nature preserve just outside the French town of Saint-Louis. Through a fixed frame, Lutter captured a full day’s cycle with all its subtle transformations in atmosphere.
Concurrently, Lutter has pursued new avenues in digital astronomic photography with the creation of Albescent, an ongoing project chronicling the ebb and flow of the moon. Since 2010, the artist has amassed numerous images of the sun and moon from international vantage points building a travel diary that considers the ubiquitous presence of these celestial bodies.
Her two latest projects are One Day, a twenty-four hour sound and video installation, and Albescent, an ongoing photographic observation of the moon.
Lutter's images have been exhibited internationally in both group and solo exhibitions, including this select list of exhibitions:
- Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building, Portland, Oregon, "Forest" (2013)
- Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin, Germany, "40 Years Galerie Max Hetzler" (2013)
- Galerie Xippas, Paris, France, “Vera Lutter” (2013)
- Museum der Moderne, Mönchsberg, Salzburg, Austria, “Flowers & Mushrooms" (2013)
- The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT, “Legacy: Photographs from the Emily Fisher Landau Collection (2013)
- Carré d’Art - Musée d’art contemporain, Nîmes, France "Vera Lutter" (2012)
- Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago, IL,“Skyscraper: Art and Architecture Against Gravity" (2012)
- Gagosian Gallery, London, England, "Vera Lutter: Egypt" (2011)
- Baldwin Gallery, Aspen, Colorado, "a ghost still is like a place" (2011)
- Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain, "Mixed Use, Manhattan: Photography and Related Practices 1970s to the present" (2010)
- Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY, "Extended Family: Contemporary Connections" (2010)
- Carolina Nitsch, New York, NY, “Samar Hussein” (2009)
- Centre Pompidou, Paris, France, "elles" (2009)
- Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills, CA, "Vera Lutter" (2009)
- Galerie Xippas, Paris, France, "Vera Lutter" (2009)
- Gagosian Gallery, New York, NY, "Vera Lutter" (2007)
- Foundation Beyeler, Switzerland, "Vera Lutter" (2008)
- Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, ""hy: A Century In Pictures"" (2006)
- Print Center, Philadelphia, PA, "Taken with Time" (2006)
- Bielefelder Kunstverein, Bielefeld, Germany, "Out of the Camera" (2006)
- Musée municipale d’Art de la Roche-sur-Yon, France. "A la (re)découverte des collections photographiques de Musée de La Roche-sur-Yon" (2006)
- The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX, "Vera Lutter" (2005)
- Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina, "El Diablo non es Tan Malo Como se Pinta" (2005)
- Gagosian Gallery, New York, NY, "Roger Ballen, Alec Soth, Vera Lutter" (2005)
- Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville, TX, "Strange Days" (2005)
- Gagosian Gallery, London, England, "Vera Lutter: Battersea" (2004)
- Kunsthaus Graz, Graz, Austria, "Vera Lutter: Inside In" (2004)
- 26th São Paulo Biennial, "Image Smugglers in a Free Territory" Brazil. (2004)
- Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL, "Strange Days" (2003)
- North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC, "Defying Gravity: Contemporary Art and Flight" (2003)
- Slusser Gallery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, "Landscapes of Man" (2003)
- Sammlung Albertina, Vienna, Austria, "The Eye and the Camera. A History of Photography" (2003)
- Kunsthalle Darmstadt, Germany, "Wings of Art" (2003)
- Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, "Life of the City." (2002)
- Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL (2002)
- Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, "2002 Whitney Biennial"
- Kunsthalle, Basel, Switzerland (2001)
- Dia Art Foundation, New York, NY (1999)
- 601Artspace, New York, NY, Nowhere Near (2009). Exhibition curated by the artist. (November 17, 2009 – March 9, 2010)
- Gotham Chamber Opera, New York, NY, Ariadne Unhinged (2008). Set design by the artist, choreographed by "Brooke Jaie"
Lutter's works are in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum, The National Gallery of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Fogg Museum at Harvard University, the Neue Galerie New York, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Davis Museum, Wellesley College, among others.
Awards and nominations
- Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (2002)
- John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2001)
- Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) Grant (1993)
- Asthoff, Jens. Art Now Volume 2. Los Angeles: Taschen, 2005.
- Bender, Thomas. New York: A Divided City. New York: Project on Cities and Urban Knowledge, 1998.
- Budak, Adam, Lynne Cooke, Peter Pakesch, and Stephan Schmidt-Wulffen. Vera Lutter: Inside In. Cologne: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 2004.
- Cohen, Françoise, Douglas Crimp, Gertrud Koch and Steven Jacobs. Vera Lutter. Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2012.
- Cooke, Lynne and Michael Govan. Dia Beacon. New York: Distributed Art Publishers, Inc, 2003.
- Greenough, Sarah; Nelson, Andrea; Kennel, Sarah; Waggoner, Diane; Ureña, Leslie (2015). The Memory of Time: Contemporary Photographs at the National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art. ISBN 978-0500544495.
- Hug, Alfons. 26th Bienal de São Paulo. São Paulo: Pavilhão Ciccillo Matarazzo, 2004.
- Crary, Jonathan, Will Self, and David Sylvester. Vera Lutter: Battersea. London: Gagosian Gallery, 2004.
- Mextorf, Lars. Out of the Camera: Analog Photography in the Digital Age. Germany: Kehrer Verlag Heidelberg, 2009.
- Newman, Michael. Vera Lutter. New York: Gagosian Gallery, 2007.
- Protzman, Ferdinand. Landscape: Photographs of Time and Place. Washington: National Geographic, p. 91, 2003.
- Roberts, Cutson. Vitamin Ph: New Perspectives on Photography. London: Phaidon Press, 2006.
- Wolf, Sylvia and Adam Grundberg. Visions from America: Photographs from the Whitney Museum of American Art, 1940-2001. New York: Prestel, 2002.
- Wollen, Peter. "Vera Lutter." Bomb Magazine, no. 85, Fall 2003, pp. 46–53.