Category / Medium: Photography
Gerd J. Kunde has a long history of deeply exploring artistic pursuits. His interest in photography began at a young age. Growing up in Germany, he taught himself studio and street photography. He spent hours every day taking photographs and making prints in his own darkroom and won a local photo competition at the age of 18. He went on to study physics and came to the U.S. to pursue a career as a scientist when he was 29. After twenty years in the Southwest, science and art finally came together when he rediscovered the deliberate, detailed art of large-format analog photography.
In his artist statement, he quotes photographer Aaron Siskind, who wrote in 1945 that while we see in terms of our experience, photographers must learn to relax those beliefs and capture an emotional experience. “No one else can ever see quite what you have seen,” Siskind penned, “and the picture that emerges is
unique, never before made, and never to be repeated.” Unlike digital images, which are flat and quantized, Kunde captures on analog, traditional film, and his use of archival printing processes draws people in and makes his large-scale reproductions come alive. “I want people to have the same experience I had, being in that place,” he says. “I want them to see what I see and really feel they are part of the scene they are looking at.”
His archival prints are created by hand in the platinum-palladium process (up to 20 inches on Arches paper, an unusually large size for this technique) or laser-scribed on archival silver halide paper for larger prints. The photographs, all limited editions of 10, they can be sized to fit a collector's location – the largest reproduction so far has been 9 feet wide.
Moving beyond traditional presentations, Kunde offers what he calls “site-specific art,” working with a client’s expectations and spaces–creating paneled pieces. He invites visits to his studio and gallery in Tesuque, New Mexico. Seeing a photograph or photographic panel by walking 6 to 12 feet from side to side is a
unique experience and reflects the unique aspects of the analog techniques Kunde has mastered.
The large-scale images of boundless vistas extend the space, acting like a window to the sky. “My goal as a scientist is to transcend my training,” Kunde says, “and to touch people emotionally with my black-and-white photography.”