Michael Wolf Architecture of Density surreal cityscape

Taken out of context, the above photograph of a massive residential housing complex might seem like an abstract pattern – part of a machine or the detail of a rug. Photographer Michael Wolf excels and make the ordinary extraordinary, transforming familiar built objects into exotic urban wonders.

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Michael Wolf Architecture of Density strange skyscrapers
Michael Wolf Architecture of Density colorful facade

One key element of his approach is the way he composes his photographs and what he includes or, one might say, what he fails to include: such as the tops, bottoms and sides of buildings. By cropping out the edges of these structures he takes them out of context and makes them into something visually abstract, divorced from their ordinary function and place in the world.

Michael Wolf Architecture of Density city images

To some these might seem overwhelming of even negative, depicting the vast cramped urban landscapes of the planet.

Michael Wolf Architecture of Density abstract urban

At the same time, however, there are nuances one sees that give individuality to each unit shown when viewed up close – open or closed shutters, architectural and decorative additions and tweaks.

Michael Wolf Architecture of Density green balconies

Whatever your impression of them is, these can be understood as beautiful, artistic compositions without reading too much into the details.

Also, at the end of the day, they are a foil for our own imaginations – after all, we can only guess at the curious kinds of living going on behind these closed deck doors and skyscraper windows.

Michael Wolf Architecture of Density

“The focus of the german photographer Michael Wolf’s work is life in mega cities. many of his projects document the architecture and the  vernacular culture of metropolises. Wolf grew up in Canada, Europe and the United States, studying at U.C. Berkeley and at the Folkwang school with Otto Steinert in Essen, Germany. He moved to Hong Kong in 1994 where he worked for 8 years as contract photographer for Stern Magazine.  Since 2001, Wolf has been focusing on his own projects, many of which have been published as books.”

Michael Wolf Architecture of Density colorful balconies

“Wolf’s work has been exhibited in numerous locations, including the Venice Bienniale for architecture, Aperture Gallery, New York;  Museum Centre Vapriikki, Tampere, Finland, Museum for Work in Hamburg, Germany, Hong Kong Shenzhen Biennial, Museum of Contemporary photography, Chicago.  His work is held in many permanent collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Mew York, the Brooklyn Museum, the San Jose Museum of Art, California; the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; Museum Folkwang, Essen and the german museum for architecture, Frankfurt.”