Studies after Nature

Part II: 42 Studies
42 Studies show compositions of the objects from the archive. The assortment of the studies is based on variations of these compositional criteria: form of the used objects / expansion and positioning of the objects within the defined space. 

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Archival Pigment Prints, PhotoRag, (23cmx30cm / 9"x12"), 2009


"Stephen Jay Gould once wrote that “the human mind delights in finding pattern—so much so that we often mistake coincidence or forced analogy for profound meaning. No other habit of thought lies so deeply within the soul of a small creature trying to make sense of a complex world not constructed for it.” This is the spirit that influences the work of Juergen Bergbauer, a German-born, RISD-educated photographer whose images highlight the tense harmony that exist between man and his natural surroundings. 

Bergbauer draws attention to the stark, irregular beauty of organic forms by photographing them in crisp monochrome, and then altering the image, divorcing figure from ground. The artist’s technique is to juxtapose arrangements of objects that demand a natural context against a sterile, even, white blankness, the most antiseptic modernist tool. The resulting composition presents what might be considered mundane components (an assemblage of mildly-chaffered stones, for instance, pocked and textured by time and hand) in a new light, with all the intent and arch-modernist jouissance of a Barbara Hepworth sculpture.

Studies After Nature is a a series of photographs of stones arranged loosely according to morphological type. Inspired by the drawings of C.D.Friedrich, the forty-two images that comprise Studies obey a strict cataloguing system. Silent and stoic, these rough ensembles reverberate with a prehistoric mystery and the stoic calm of Zen. […] Bergbauer’s meticulous, clinical ordering system is beguiling. looking at the finished images, it’s easy to project a Gouldian appreciation for Bergbauers’s compositions, and it’s hard not to think about the power of natural objects divorced from their surroundings. As John Ruskin once memorably wrote, „The expression of space by any means whatsoever, sharpness of edge, vividness of color, assisted by greater pitch of shadow, requires only that objects should be detached from each other.“

Bergbauer’s work ist hie embodiment of the type of expression that Ruskin describes: in weaving a peculiar rational narrative from subtle differences in the typology and morphology of inert natural objects, artists like Bergbauer expand our view of the world, and our physical and existential coordinates within it."

Kevin Greenberg, The Last Magazine, Issue #10, 2013

C.D.Friedrich, Rock Study, 1800

C.D.Friedrich, Rock Study, 1800