Christopher Thomas | Paris City of Light
Christopher Thomas is an artist who has a reputation of being a city portraitist. His last exhibition “PARIS CITY OF LIGHT” at the Bernheimer Fine Art Photography capture the great cultural capital and the first metropolis of the modern age.
Christopher Thomas started his city portraits with “Munich Elegies” in 2005 followed by the series “New York Sleeps”, which he created between 2001 and 2009. His series “Venice in Solitude” was shot in 2011 and shown in 2012. All of these series were shown worldwide in galleries and at trade fairs and published as books.
In 2013 and 2014, Christopher Thomas set off to capture Paris with his signature style; silent photos of city scenes, taken with a large-format camera and printed on hand-made laid paper. The film is a black-and-white type 55 film Polaroid.
He takes us on a journey through the Paris of the past, which we recognise from the countless photos from the nineteenth century. He shows us the bridges, the parks and the alleys, continuing his stroll along the quays, past the magnificent palaces and the landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Les Invalides and the Cathedral of Notre-Dame. He reveals to the visitor a silent city, devoid of people and cars. The pictures are untypical, and appear unreal and dreamlike, especially for those who know Paris with its ubiquitous crowds of tourists at all seasons; last year they numbered 87 million.
Like Eugène Atget before him, Christopher Thomas sets off like a flâneur on foot with his heavy camera equipment. His is a gaze filled with curiosity, enquiring, unprejudiced, delighting in discoveries and questioning. He generally prefers the early morning hours, when the city seems still to be asleep and reveals its structure in silence, or the time just before sunset, when the light cloaks the buildings and bridges in a mystic air that makes their structures glow. His equipment includes a selection of large-format Cambo Wide cameras, a tripod, a dark velvet cloth, and numerous packs of Polaroid film. Before Polaroid ceased production in 2008, Thomas was able to purchase a stock of film material, which he continues to make use of to this day. In his new series of works, much more than in his other city portraits, he permits himself to experiment; this is a result of the irregularities of the Polaroid film due to its age. It is gradually becoming unreliable, which often leads to solarisation and inversion. In additional to the usual positive, the film the photographer uses, type 55, also contains a negative. By virtue of the large negative (4 x 5 inches), Thomas can ensure that the prints (pigment prints on hand-made laid paper by Arches) match up to his demanding requirements as regards the wealth of detail and the finest nuances of tone. The negatives are very sensitive and have to be treated in a sodium sulphite bath after developing. Thomas is also a photographer of the glamorous consumer world who works with the very latest digital cameras. Here, however, he uses a technical process dating from the very beginnings of photography that includes a great deal of “craftsmanship” and “deceleration” in the working process.
Christopher Thomasʼs personal viewpoint, his sensitivity and his craftsmanship result in pictures which we can regard as a metaphor for the modern capital during the nineteenth century, which to this day has lost none of its unique charisma.
Christopher Thomas, born in 1961 in Munich, graduated from the Bayerische Staatslehranstalt für Photographie, works throughout the world as a renowned advertising photographer.
His journalistic work for Geo, Stern, Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin, Merian, and other magazines has been awarded many international prizes. He became known as an artist for the cycle Münchner Elegien (Munich Elegies), which was shown at the Münchner Fotomuseum in 2005 (published by Schirmer/Mosel, 2005), and New York Sleeps.
His photographs of New York were exhibited thus far at Bernheimer Fine Art Photography in Munich, Steven Kasher Gallery in New York, Fifty One Fine Art Photography in Antwerp and The Wapping Project Bankside in London.