Ulrich Schmitt

Ulrich Schmitt, born in 1959 and living in Munich, is an artist with a conceptual approach to photography.


Beginning of the 1980s, he started off studying painting and graphics at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich but soon began using the medium of photography as a means of artistic expression.


A study visit for one year, granted by the DAAD in London, encouraged him in his artistic endeavors. Works on the subjects of architecture and landscape with sculptural and/or installation aspects informed his early career. Later on, his photographs of plants moved more and more into the foreground and became his main photographic research subject.


Since 2002 Ulrich Schmitt has been working on a project which he calls “Photographic Chemistry.” Josef Maria Eder (Austrian,1885-1944), one of the most important photo chemists of his time, as well as contemporary artists like Sigmar Polke have inspired Schmitt to explore the physical and chemical processes of the medium.


Schmitt is particularly interested in the chemical processes for the colored redevelopment of black-and-white photographic papers, which were introduced at the end of the 19th century, a time when this elaborate artistic research project took off. These techniques originally served to increase the durability of photographs but were soon applied, even before the invention of color photography, as a means of creative use to explore the extensive spectrum of colors.


Schmitt in his work uses precious and partly poisonous metal compounds made from palladium, gold, uranium, antimony, lead, copper, iron, chromium, and mercury salts, which are reminiscent of long-forgotten alchemical experiments.


The choice of motifs concentrates on pictorial representations of plants, which are often photographed over several weeks.
The special range of colors in the work and the division of the motifs into individual strips lead to abstract image composition.


Most recently Schmitt has also been creating monochrome photographic works in large formats in which he investigates pure color surfaces and surface texture. Sketch-like smaller works, which are also provided with handwritten notes in pencil, show the often time-consuming attempts and sometimes also the failure of the planned project but always lead to surprising results.


The artist has been a lecturer at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich since 1999. Throughout his artistic career he has been working on many commissions for insurance and financial companies.


Some of Schmitt´s works have become part of private and company collections as well as museums such as Munich Re Art Collection, E.ON Art Collection, Continentale Insurance Art Collection, Versicherungskammer Bayern Art Collection, Museum Würth, and Museum Dachau, just to mention a few.