Parc de Versailles
André Le Nôtre conceptualized the Parterre du Midi of Versailles as a spacious garden artwork. With a view looking over gentle paths and sleeping basins, Reinhard Görner takes the perspective of the famous gardening master. Natural light determines the temperature and depth of artistic impression. The sense of ease in the images arises from the sum of the well-conceived and skillfully used medium of the artist.
Versailles larger than life
A Renaissance painting was considered successful if the person being represented was recognizable not only by their physical features, but also by the person’s persona, or personality, which had been captured with the brush.
Architectural photography poses a very similar challenge, though in this case it is about capturing a building’s individual vibrancy, be it its interior or exterior. This challenge requires the sharp eye of a photographer who knows how to investigate architectural forms much like a painter would investigate a portrait sitter’s facial features. Since these forms cannot be measured within a human scale, one must determine the sense of space, which allows the viewer to create a relationship with the architecture. Reinhard Görner’s photographs of the Versailles’ ceremonial rooms do not merely try to capture the Baroque interiors’ sheer abundance of detail; rather they allow the place to speak to the individual viewer directly.
Avoiding the warping of a wide-angle lens, Görner captures the oversized halls in front of his large-format camera as though doing character studies. The images edges cautiously crop the curved arches and paneled ceilings, which seem to continue out and over the viewer’s head. It is this choice of cropping the image that sets a place’s individual energy free. For the viewer, Versailles’ halls are both simultaneously expansive and close. Our gaze can ramble over or linger on details; in both cases, the space’s presence is always a part of its individual viewing experience.
Görner’s photographs sometimes open the doors to another world and take the viewer with them on a journey through time. Here the palace is no longer a museum but both royal residence and a site steeped in history. The viewer does not have to share the halls with the masses of visitors; instead the images offer him exclusive impressions of the Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors) and the Galerie des Batailles (Hall of Battles) as even the king of France was probably never granted. The halls are empty of people, yet they seem to be able to unfurl their individual characters of their own accord. These places practically breathe history, and this aspect is also part of the essence captured in the photographs. King Wilhelm of Prussia was named German Emperor Wilhelm I in the Hall of Mirrors after France was defeated in 1870–1871 in the Franco-German War. The Treaty of Versailles following World War I was also signed there in 1919. In this sense, the architectural photographs of Versailles’s ceremonial rooms have an edge on Renaissance paintings; here even a sense of world history arises within the viewer – one which continues to exert an influence today.
What Reinhard Görner (*1950) demands from his photographic works on the world of flowers, the absolute claim for beauty, is what he achieves similarly in the elegance of temples of art. “Every plant carries its own secret that it reveals anytime to anybody. But”, continues the photographer, “a plant can only reveal it, because we share it.” This engagement with the secrets of beauty is the same that rooms of art demand. Instead of the biological cycle of growth and decay, it is the infinite here, the constant that is aspired. Instead of handling living creatures, one deals with dead objects. Nonetheless, the universal rules of beauty affect a museum as well, the more so as sensitive sculptures and paintings absolutely develop a life of their own and are able to correspond with each other. Their eyes seem to meet, the eyes of men and women, nudes and dressed, old and young. In one room you find two Dutch capitulars suddenly in contact with a lasciviously lolling Sebastian two cabinets away, as if he wanted to show them the path to ecstasy and sanctity. In another hall an earthly and angelic Amor meet and have to be kept apart by a door, just as it had to be done with their painters who then carried out their envy and disapproval violently and juristic. Stories are spun that cover canvases, conquer halls and vault over eras as if of no significance. But Reinhard Görner senses the rooms themselves too. Sometimes they are empty and yet not rejecting, but inviting and full of expectation, seemingly wanting to know what will happen in them. The photographer, who first studied German language and literature, dramatics and sinology before turning towards artistic photography in 1975, is a master of quiescence. His pictures, no matter which genre, follow a simple rule: they convince with esthetsia and perfection.
Sculpture in Movement
Reinhard Görner, an active architecture photographer since 1985, is a master of perspectives and precise spatial compositions, and he thus considers classical sculpture, in all of its possible facets, a special challenge.
The cropping he selects is of utmost importance, as these suspenseful views from below or the side lend the stony gods and muses an unbelievable vitality. His photos show them dancing or caught with all their muscles flexed in an expressive warlike gesture – and forego including the pedestal: they are not statically anchored but seem as though in mid-movement.
Sculptures with expressive gestures and engaged facial expressions, oscillating fabric folds, athletic bodies, and movements that look perfect from nearly every angle all belonged to the classic challenges of the sculptor’s art. In his series Görner vigorously follows this three-dimensional canon and discovers wonderfully moving moments that elevate his protagonists to lively actors in a fanciful scene. Mottled and shadowed lighting effects before an azure sky help Görner capture the complete power and energy of the sculptures’ plasticity and formal vocabulary. The camera’s perspective also often gives us the feeling that the photographer is peering over the figures’ shoulders or directly into the billowing drapery of their robes rather than assessing their proportions frontally. He penetrates the reverent distance with his stimulating approach, entrancing and fascinating viewers with every step closer.
View our exclusive feature about artist Reinhard Görner
|1950||Born in Leipzig, grew up in Allgäu|
|1970||Moved to Berlin|
|German culture and literature studies, Sinology studies, engagement in Photography|
|Since 1982||Free Architecture Photographer|
|Lives and works in Berlin|
|2006||Architekturfotografien im Store des amj design interiors , Berlin|
|2005||aus der Serie 'Pflanzen.Räume' Beitrag zur Gesamtschau "Deutschland in Japan", Gallery B u. C, Tokio, Japan|
|2001||'Bait Canteen', Origin Gallery, Dublin|
|2008||Erhabene Räume, Cologne, Frankfurt, Berlin, Germany|
Posthorn & Reichsadler, Nicolai Verlag
Berliner Fassaden, Nicolai Verlag
Das Ullsteinhaus, Jovis Verlag
Die Bundesdruckerei, Eigenverlag
K.-F. Schinkel: Charlottenhof - Römische Bäder, Potsdam Sanssouci,Edition Menges
Steidle&Partner, KPMG-Gebäude München, Edition Menges
The Reichstag Graffiti, Norman Foster, Jovis Verlag
Bode-Museum, Heinz Tesar, Edition Menges
Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Dietrich+Dietrich, Edition Menges