"It was like an Edward Hopper painting. In fact, I was greatly influenced by Hopper, taking these photographs—even walking along the streets at night and looking into restaurants. It was almost a cliché. You'd see these Nighthawks-like scenes at eleven at night—two people sitting at a table discussing things or a waiter wiping a table—and so Hopper's paintings were in my mind while taking these." —Michael Wolf
Chicago, like many urban centers throughout the world, has recently undergone a surge in new construction, grafting a new layer of architectural experimentation onto those of past eras. In early 2007, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, with the support of U.S. Equities Realty, invited Michael Wolf to be an artist-in-residence. Bringing his unique perspective on changing urban environments to a city renowned for its architectural legacy, Wolf chose to photograph the central downtown area, focusing specifically on issues of voyeurism and the contemporary urban landscape in flux.
This very special limited-edition photograph, TC#39, is part of Wolf's first body of work to address an American city, and is included in the book The Transparent City (Museum of Contemporary Photography/Aperture, 2008).
Whereas prior series have juxtaposed humanizing details within the surrounding geometry of the urban landscape, in The Transparent City his details are fragments of life—digitally distorted and hyper-enlarged—snatched surreptitiously via telephoto lenses: Edward Hopper meets Blade Runner. The material resonates with all the formalism of the constructed, architectonic work for which Wolf is well-known, but also emphasizes the conceptual underpinnings of his ongoing engagement with the idea of how modern life unfolds within the framework of the ever growing contemporary city.
Michael Wolf (born in Munich, 1954) grew up in the United States and studied at UC Berkeley and with Otto Steinert at the University of Essen in Germany. His books include Sitting in China (2002), Hong Kong, Front Door/Back Door (2005), and The Transparent City (Museum of Contemporary Photography/Aperture, 2008). Wolf lives and works in Hong Kong and Paris.