A Class of Their Own

The Düsseldorf School of Photography
Maren Polte
Lieven Gevaert Series
Volume 24
2017

The pioneer group of the Düsseldorf School

The ‘Düsseldorf School’ has become a household name in the art world for one of the most successful and influential strains of modern photography. Coined in the late 1980s, the name refers mainly to the pioneer group of students of the late Bernd Becher, who in 1976 became the first professor for creative photography at a German arts academy. His students included Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Axel Hütte, Thomas Ruff, and Thomas Struth, all of them today internationally acclaimed artists in their own right.

Whereas ‘Düsseldorf School’ initially was used as a handy term for a group of artists with the same university’s background, it quickly turned into a powerful brand name both in critical and commercial contexts. Despite its welcomed impact on the art scene, the members of the ‘School’ felt rather ambiguous about their perception as a group which turned them into stars but simultaneously risked levelling individual profiles and differences. What exactly connects and distinguishes them aesthetically is for the first time thoroughly explored in Maren Polte’s pioneering study.

Forthcoming