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Barbara (*1940) and Michael Leisgen (*1944)

 

In the 1970s, the early works of Barbara & Michael Leisgen came as a counterpoint to conceptual photography, notably led by the typological school of Bernd & Hilla Becher in Düsseldorf. The different works illustrated hereunder are part of the Mimesis series, located in practices in operation since the early 1960s : the recording of a natural trace, research concerning the body and experiments related to Land Art. Barbara Leisgen’s silhouette is set, and leaves its fleeting trace in landscapes; the actions involve stretching out her arms to follow the contours of undulating countryside (the Paysage mimétique and Mimesis series), or to include the sun in an arc drawn by her arm while she is seen from behind in the center of the image. This is not merely imitating nature through its gestures; it describes, in the sense of tracing, and channels it as well. The (re)appropriation of the landscape is subjective, the silhouette of Barbara Leisgen being displayed in the landscape, inscribing its mark therein is ephemeral.

 

The pictures recall the visions of German Romanticism, notably the pictures of Caspar David Friedrich - his painting Morgenlicht (shown on left) being the figurative model for the Leisgen's Mime-sis works, although Friedrich's paradigm for considering nature as sacred is amended. One might see this as an anthropocentric romantic perspective such as the French Romantic view gave us. And yet, despite the sublime aspect of the photographed scenes and the preciousness of the prints which, beyond black and white, allow us to imagine a range of colors in the dazzling light, their images also refer back to the naivety and intrinsic nostalgia of souvenir photographs. The actual viewer is placed in a specular perception, being led to look at a woman posing in a natural expanse. By doing so, Barbara & Michael Leisgen are the precursors of current landscape approaches, relying simultaneously on a modernist and postmodernist viewpoint.

 

Barbara and Michael Leisgen's work is discussed and mentioned in numerous publications, including "Feminism Art Theory: An Anthology 1968 - 2014" (2015) by Hilary Robinson, "Video Art Historicized: Traditions and Negotiations (Studies in Art Historiography)" by Malin Hedlin Hayden (2015), "Une introduction a l'art contemporain" by Philippe Coubetergues (2005), "Le Corps photographié" by Jean-Paul Blanchet, Dimitri Konstantinidis, ... (1996), "Le sentiment de paysage à la fin du XXème siècle" by Bernard Ceysson (1977), "Chroniques de l'Art Vivant" (1974), etc.

Their work has been the subject of several publications - mostly in conjunction with exhibitions, such as "Les Ecritures du Soleil (Sonnenschriften)" (1978), "Die Ägyptische Wand" (1980), "Stellungsspiel" (1987), "De la beauté usée : Barbara et Michael Leisgen, [exposition, Paris, Maison européenne de la photographie, 10 septembre-9 novembre 1997]" (1997), "Kunst-Landschaft 1969-2000" (2000), "Zeitsprung" (2000), and "Positions" (2006), amidst others.

 

 

 

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Barbara and Michael Leisgen - Kornfelder (detail)Barbara and Michael Leisgen - Kornfelder (detail)

 

 

 

 

 

Mimesis - Kornfelder   [Mimetic - Cornfields]     #5/5

1971, silver gelatin print on baryta paper, 4 elements
each 90 by 140 cm (35 7/16 by 55 1/8 in.)

edition of five

 

 

 

 

Le Serpent    #2/3

1972, two silver gelatin prints on baryta-coated paper, mounted on dibond,

each 22 by 28 cm (8 3/4 by 11 in.), framed together (ca. 50 by 80 cm, 10 3/4 by 31 1/2 in.)

edition of three

 

 

 

Eintauchen    #3/3

1972, three silver gelatin prints on baryta-coated Ilford Galerie FB Silver paper, mounted on dibond,

each 50 by 75 cm (19 7/10 by 29 1/2 in.), individually framed

edition of three   SOLD OUT

 

 

 

Gravitation   #1/3

1973, two silver gelatin prints on baryta-coated Ilford Galerie FB Silver paper, mounted on dibond,

each 50 by 75 cm (19 7/10 by 29 1/2 in.), individually framed

edition of three

 

 

 

Vogelflug    #1/3

1973, three silver gelatin prints on baryta-coated Ilford Galerie FB Silver paper, mounted on dibond,

each 50 by 75 cm (19 7/10 by 29 1/2 in.), individually framed

edition of three

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twilight  #2/3

1973, silver gelatin print on baryta-coated Ilford Galerie FB paper, mounted on dibond

80 by 120 cm (31 1/2 by 47 1/5 in.)

edition of three

 

 

 

Wintersonne  #2/3

1973, silver gelatin print on baryta-coated Ilford Galerie FB paper, mounted on dibond

80 by 120 cm (31 1/2 by 47 1/5 in.)

edition of three

 

 

 

Erinnerung    #2/5

1974, silver gelatin print on baryta-coated Ilford Galerie FB Silver paper, mounted on dibond

70 by 70 cm (27 3/5 by 27 3/5 in.)

edition of five

 

 

 

Erloschen   #1/3

1974, silver gelatin print on baryta-coated Agfa Gevaert MCC 112 paper, mounted on dibond

80 by 120 cm (31 1/2 by 47 1/5 in.)

edition of three

 

 

 

Saule Pleurant   Saule Rêvant    #1/3

1974, two silver gelatin prints on baryta-coated Ilford Galerie FB paper, mounted on dibond,

each 80 by 120 cm (31 1/2 by 47 1/5 in.), individually framed

edition of three

 

 

 

Rhombus    #3/3

1975, five silver gelatin print on baryta-coated paper, framed individually

each 50 by 60 cm (19 11/16 by 23 5/8 in.)

edition of three    SOLD OUT

 

 

 

Das Licht - der Mensch - die Welt   #2/3

1975, silver gelatin print on baryta-coated Ilford Galerie FB paper, mounted on dibond,

80 by 120 cm (31 1/2 by 47 1/5 in.)

edition of three

 

 

 

limited edition box set of 25 silver gelatin printslimited edition box set of 25 silver gelatin prints

25 Versuche über den Horizont zu springen

1975, box set with 25 silver gelatin print on baryta-coated Ilford Galerie FB paper,

each photograph 10 by 15 cm (3.9 by 5.9 in.)

edition of twenty-five, each presented in a limited edition box set w/ text in German, French, and English.

box dims ca. 40,7 by 31,6 by 3,2 cm (approx. 16 by 12.4 by 1.25 in.)

 

 

 

 

 

Sauvez le Soleil    #3/3

1976, silver gelatin print on Fuji Archive paper, mounted on dibond diaplex,

each 120 by 80 cm (47 1/5 by 31 1/2 in.)

edition of three    SOLD OUT

 

 

 

Sonnenblume   #5/5

1980, Cibachrome / Ilfachrome print, mounted on dibond diaplex,

100 by 100 cm (39 2/5 by 39 2/5 in.)

edition of five   -   last available

 

 

 

 

Sonnensprung   #5/5

1980, Cibachrome / Ilfachrome print, mounted on dibond diaplex,

100 by 100 cm (39 2/5 by 39 2/5 in.)

edition of five   -   last available

 

 

 

 

Sonnenteilung    #3/3

1994, silver gelatin print on baryta-coated Agfa Gevaert MCC 112 paper, mounted on dibond

112 by 147 cm (44 1/10 by 67 9/10 in.)

edition of three   -   last available

 

 

 

 

 

Barbara and Michael Leisgen are included in the ongoing exhibition

SUBLIME - Les Tremblements du Monde at the Centre Pompidou-Metz

an exhibition curated by Hélène Guenin. Through September 5, 2016.

 

 

 

Barbara and Michael Leisgen are included in the exhibition

Rêve d'obscur - Au Pays des étoiles terrestres at the Fondation d'Entreprise Hermès

Through September 19, 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mimesis - Hügel   [Mimetic - Hill]

1972, silver gelatin print on baryta paper
19 11/16 by 23 5/8 in. (50 by 60 cm)

 

 

 

Mimesis   [Mimetic]

1973, silver gelatin print on baryta paper
19 11/16 by 23 5/8 in. (50 by 60 cm)

 

 

 

Mimetische Landschaft   [Mimetic Landscape]

1974, archival inkjet on Epson PhotoRag
23 5/8 by 31 1/2 in. (60 by 80 cm)