I photograph what I do not wish to paint and I paint what I do not wish to photograph (Man Ray)
The photographs of Klaus Baumgärtner bear witness to his world. Things forgotten, unobserved, detached from their function become his hauntingly beautiful or quietly humorous subjects. He sets free the human content of objects, giving humanity to the often inhuman world around us. When I look to his photographs I recognize things not for what they are but for what he makes them.
Klaus Baumgärtner’s obsession with objects is evident in his other work, painting and sculpture. But in his photographs this takes a different dimension. The found thing or object is not taken out of context but let there where it belongs-“rooted”- keeping its beauty and meaning within its original setting. Simultaneously and more importedly, he releaves it of its function and sets it ( and us ) free to play.
It is once again the sharp focus of a childlike eye that finds beauty in the most obvious and trivial things. It is out there, the poetry; out there in the street, on the shop window, on the side of a dirty building. And it takes a mind that is able to “unlearn”
to show us where to find the poetry again; in the terror of a ghostlike shadow, the human likeness of an oilblot on the pavement. The stories that are told by objects, in a moment that “catch them in the act’ and the capacity to transform these objects- to make them his friends even!- is Baumgärtner’s victory over the reasoning intellect that does not allow the formulation of such “simple” language.
The power of the image is giving new meaning to odd numbers on the hull of a ship, new life to a disintegrating old gate or a loving smile to the bent scrap of wire which, kissed by a ray of light and isolated in that particular spot, becomes something that touches us in a place we long since have forgotten.
Klaus Baumgärtners tool, the camera (an automatic one as “easy” as the image he makes with it!) gives not only reason to the things around him but power to the shadow of a bridge for us to cross over to that part of our mind that restores life to our imagination and memory to our dreams.