Annette Kelm2019-03-29T12:38:00+00:00
Annette Kelm, Untitled (Rider), 2005

Annette Kelm

*1975 in Stuttgart

lives and works in Berlin

2004 Artist Residency in Heinävesi , Hamburg
Working Grant for Fine Art, Hamburg
2005 Art Cologne-Award for Young Art
Working Grant from Stiftung Kunstfonds
2015 Camera Austria Award for Contemporary Photography
2003 “Als Kriechtier ist das Pferd edler als der Esel”, HfBK, Hamburg, DE
2004 “To a Snail”, Galerie Crone, Berlin, DE
2006 “Errors in English”, Art Cologne-Award for Young Art, Artothek, Cologne, DE
2007 “Vier Jahreszeiten”, Johann König, Berlin, DE
2008 CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco, US
Witte de With, Rotterdam, NL
2009 KW – Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, DE
Kunsthalle Zürich, CH
2011 “Hallo aber”, Bonner Kunstverein, DE
2012 Johann König, Berlin, DE
“Oranges & Stripes”, Marc Foxx, Los Angeles, US
2013 Taka Ishii Gallery, Kiyosumi, Tokyo, JP
2014 “Staub”, Kölnischer Kunstverein, DE
2015 “Home Home Home”, Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, DE
“Syncro”, Meyer Kainer Gallery, Vienna, AT
2016 VOX. Center of Contemporary Image, Montreal, CA
“Pizza”, KÖNIG GALERIE, Berlin, DE
2017 “Leaves”, Kestnergesellschaft, Hanover, DE
2018 “Tomato Target”, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, AT
Fosun Foundation Shanghai, CN
“Springs”, Gió Marconi, Milan, IT
“Knots”, Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York, US
2001 “Planche, Säbelgefechte”, Klasse Cosima von Bonin, Hamburg, DE
2002 “andere räume”, Kunstverein Hamburg, DE
2003 “Zimmer aufräumen, Zupfgeigenhansl kommt!”, Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, DE
2005 “Jetzt und zehn Jahre davor”, KW – Institute of Contemporary Art, Berlin, DE
2006 “New Ghost Entertainment – Entitled”, Or Gallery, Vancouver, CA
2007 “Passengers”, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, US
“The History of a Decade That Has Not yet Been Named”, 9th Biennale d’Art Contem-porain, Lyon, FR
2008 “… auf der Erbse..on peas…”, Galerie der Stadt Sindelfingen, DE
2009 Preis der Nationalgalerie für junge Kunst, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, DE
2010 “How Soon is Now”, Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow, RU
2011 “Illuminations”, 54th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, Venezia, IT
2012 “State of the Art”, NRW-Forum, Düsseldorf, DE
“Malerei in Fotografie”, Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, DE
2013 “New Photography 2013”, MoMA, New York, US
“Futur II”, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt am Main DE
2015 “So ein Ding muß ich auch haben”, Lenbachhaus, Munich, DE
“Future Perfect. Contemporary Art from Germany”, Kaliningrad State Art Gallery, RU
“Déjà-vu in der Fotokunst”, DZ Bank Kunstsammlung, Frankfurt am Main, DE
2016 “Beton”, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, AT
“Mit anderen Augen. Das Porträt in der zeitgenössischen Fotografie”, Kunstmuseum Bonn, DE
2017 “Über den Umgang mit Menschen, wenn Zuneigung im Spiel ist. Sammlung Klein”, Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, DE
“OPTICAL ILLUSIONS – Contemporary Still Life Photography”, C/O Berlin, DE
“Photography Out of Germany”, Thomas Erben Gallery, New York, US
2018 “Berlin-Sofia. A Shortcut – eine Abkürzung – пряк път”, Structura Gallery, Sofia, BG
“Soft Focus”, Dallas Museum of Art, US
“Stillleben in der Fotografie der Gegenwart”, Kunsthaus Wien, Vienna AT
2019 “Kubus. Sparda-Kunstpreis”, Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, DE

Kunstmuseum Stuttgart (DE), Staatsgalerie Stuttgart (DE), Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (US), Tate Modern (London, GB), Museum of Modern Art New York (US), Kunsthaus Zürich (CH), Centre Pompidou (Paris, FR), MOCA Grand Avenue (Los Angeles, US), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, US), Lenbachhaus München (Munich, DE), Dallas Museum of Art (US), LWL Museum für Kunst und Kultur Münster (DE), Walker Art Center Minneapolis (US)

Portrait Sinje Dillenkofer - Kubus. Sparda Kunstpreis 2019

Updating the classic genres

In recent years, Annette Kelm has set new accents in the field of conceptual photography. The exclusively photographic work, in which staged photographs stand alongside documentary pieces, quotes the classic genres of the medium: portraits and still life motifs, as well as landscape and architectural photography. The motifs refer to themes from the fields of design and mass production, nature and technology, as well as cultural-historical and socio-economic developments. The objects and protagonists in Annette Kelm’s works can generally be identified quite easily. A clear narrative, however, cannot be derived from this. Isolated from their original contexts and transferred into new constellations, they set an open association process in motion, in which artistic, historical, and socio-cultural references are inscribed. With her works, Annette Kelm traces these sign systems, i.e. the relationship between objects, their contexts of meaning and function, and their representation.

Still lifes

Since the late 1990s, an extensive oeuvre has been created, in which recurring motifs can be discovered, such as plants and transient natural materials in connection with industrial mass products and designer pieces. The photos of staged objects can be read as a modern interpretation of traditional vanitas images.

Annette Kelm, Still Life with Spring, 2018

Technology and nature: “Still Life with Spring”

For “Still Life with Spring” (2018), the artist arranged a vase with peonies, a mysterious object made of wood and steel, and a spring on a folding stool. What at first seems to have been assembled by chance reveals itself upon closer inspection to be a stringently composed setting. The rose-colored flowers on a bright blue ground counteract the cool steel rods. The blue wall panels of colored cardboard, which seem to have strangely fallen into an oblique position, correspond with the decor of the vase. The interplay of horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines is carefully balanced. The camera frame is deliberately chosen: From a slightly elevated perspective, the motif shifts somewhat off the central axis; the upper and lower edges of the image are trimmed, which further obscures the spatial situation. The refusal of a clear narrative is also reflected in the title: The “spring” refers both to the metal spring and the opulent peonies, which are usually in full bloom in late spring.

Annette Kelm, Pizza Pizza Pizza, 2016

Photography in series: “Pizza Pizza Pizza”

Pizza Pizza Pizza” (2016) combines a disposable industrial product with a piece of nature: A pizza box and the bark of a tree are staged sculpturally. The four-part arrangement of the work refers to a serial format that Annette Kelm has repeatedly taken up, for example in her portrait series. The choreography of the scene is repeated in other works with small variations. For “Found Object (Balance)” from 2016, for example, she arranged the wooden model of a scale in five different positions. The sequence of photographs in the manner of a film still touches on notions of movement and time. By choosing four identical motifs for “Pizza Pizza Pizza”, Annette Kelm not only puts her own serial strategy up for discussion, she also undermines viewers’ expectations and invites them to reflect on their own viewing habits.


American Portrait” (2007), “Judith, old Masters” (2014), and the two-part work “Light Double” (2018) are representative of the group of portraits which, for the most part, depict Annette Kelm’s friends and artist colleagues. Here, she quotes the classic situation of a professional studio photograph.

In the background

The models pose in front of a so-called infinity cove – a roll of fabric or paper that, provisionally mounted, marks the background. Judith takes her position in front of a roll of fabric printed with stylized, famous portraits and still life motifs from art history. The work contains various levels of meaning which refer to the person portrayed, the history of the portrait, the personality of the artist, and the act of portrayal.

Posing at the artist’s studio

Annette Kelm’s interest in patterned and printed fabrics, which is repeatedly expressed in series such as “Big Prints” (2007) and “Untitled” (2013), is also reflected in “Light Double“. The models of the two photos pose in an identical manner, wearing identical clothing, on a step ladder in front of a partition covered with blue-and-white striped fabric. Two targets from archery and darts complete the scenery and at the same time take up the motif of doubling. The step ladders and targets belong to the group of recurring props in Kelm’s works and are to be understood as allusions to the artist’s studio and professional studio photography. There, with the help of a light double, different settings and scenarios are rehearsed before the actual actor is finally photographed. But who is the double here? Or are we perhaps dealing with a doppelganger?

Annette Kelm, Judith, old Masters, 2014
Annette Kelm, Versuchsanstalt für Wasserbau und Schiffbau, Berlin, 2018

Documentary photography

In addition to the staged studio photos, there are also documentary works, often preceded by lengthy research on the part of the artist.

“Research Institute for Hydraulic Engineering and Shipbuilding, Berlin”

Among the documentary works in Annette Kelm’s oeuvre is a photograph of the circulation tunnel UT2, which is used by the Technical University of Berlin as a ship testing station. “Versuchsanstalt für Wasserbau und Schiffbau, Berlin” (Research Institute for Hydraulic Engineering and Shipbuilding, Berlin, 2018) depicts the building, which oscillates between architecture, industrial construction, machinery, and scientific equipment, from an unusual perspective. The view of the back of the building is obstructed by a row of trees that form a contrast to the architecture. The existing natural depth graduation of the trees is reminiscent of the spatial principle of the diorama.

A visit with the art patrons Peter and Irene Ludwig

In 2017, at the invitation of the Ludwig Foundation, Annette Kelm photographed in the former residence of the founding couple. “Ludwig-Stiftung Aachen, Basement” (2018) captures a situation the artist found in the basement of the house, where, in addition to numerous arbitrarily stacked artworks and everyday objects, portrait busts of the former residents were also stored. The bizarre situation seems like an involuntary parody of the artful ambience of the patrons’ villa, and at the same time refers to a cultural-political scandal that ignited in 1986 over the portraits made by Arno Breker.

Annette Kelm, Vitrine zur Geschichte der Frauenbewegung in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin, 2013
Annette Kelm, Ludwig Stiftung Aachen, Basement 2018, 2018

On the history of the women’s movement in the Federal Republic of Germany

In the series “Vitrine zur Geschichte der Frauenbewegung in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland” (Display Case on the History of the Women’s Movement in the Federal Republic of Germany) from 2013, Annette Kelm deals with the question of how concepts of reality and history are modelled and transported through images. During her research in various German museums, she found largely identical settings on the theme, which reduce the historical development of the women’s movement to a few striking objects, such as pink overalls:

“My photographs point out the constructed nature of such presentations, which reveal much about how history gets written.”

Annette Kelm, Apples, 2018
Annette Kelm, Apples, 2018