Frank Kunert's work:
A multi-storied apartment building with gray-beige stucco: the epitome of lower middle-class tristesse. A throw rug and a doormat hang over the balustrade of a balcony. Another has a single flower box, a third, a deck chair. A familiar sight at first glance. After a second or third take, however, it becomes perfectly clear that something is amiss. The balcony doors lead nowhere, and the balconies themselves are not accessible.
In "Apartment with balcony," there is no architectural scandal attempting to be uncovered by photographer Frank Kunert. The photograph stems from a series of works entitled "Photographs of Small Worlds," which ingeniously, slyly and subtly play with our sense of perception, as well as with our expectations -- taking both ad absurdum.
The project "Small Worlds" is far from being mere photographic satire. Instead, Kunert has spent weeks, sometimes even months, working with deco boards, plasticine and paint, in order to model his thoughts in 3D. With an exceptional eye for detail, he has constructed faultless models, and created scenes that look just like the real thing. Kunert never flicks on his studio lights and reaches for his large-format camera until he feels that his models have reached a state of perfection -- until they have become little worlds of their own.
And, it is true, these intricate models could very well stand on their own. But by taking photographs of them, the complexity of these elaborately staged worlds (as well as the intended visual illusion they create) is made manifest. For Kunert, photo montage and computer animation do not come into question. He has no interest in getting fast results, or of achieving a perfect high-gloss surface. In his mind, it is not only perfectly acceptable that viewers of his large prints can detect that these are pictures taken of models; they should actually be aware of this fact. The "analogue look" of his photographs is intentional -- Kunert's answer to digitalization is creating images of the tangible.
Frank Kunert's "Small Worlds" are, in their symbiosis of idea, image and caption, just as multi-dimensional as excellently-crafted written narratives. On the surface, these photographs confront us with all of the hollow words, catchphrases and banalities we encounter in our daily lives. The stereotypical and senseless aspects of human communication cannot be unveiled more convincingly than in their literal conversion into a visual medium. Kunert deliberately oscillates between humor, wit, scurrility and the grotesque. If, indeed, "Life goes on," then, there is no question about it, it is only with the continued delivery of one's daily paper and mail. The tombstone will, of course, need a mailbox and a doorbell, and Mr. Kunert has naturally taken both into account.
On a deeper level, these "Small Worlds" are linked by a reoccurring motif: our deep human desire for security and our fear of loss, as well as our anxiety regarding the transitory nature of life. It is no accident that, despite all of the foliage depicted, there is not a single photograph in this collection that evokes a feeling of summer. In addition, Kunert does not portray secluded suburbia as a neat row of townhouses with carports, but rather as buildings that stem from the early post-war period. Melancholy and dejection pervade these images. "Near the autobahn" illustrates how justified we are in fearing the loss of our sense of safety on an individual level. Here, the freeway literally runs through a residential neighborhood, depriving its inhabitants of any possibility of finding a calm, solitary and safe place to retreat to. The same applies to the photograph entitled "Sunny side": no matter how hard the tenants of this apartment scrub and sweep, or decorate the balcony with potted plants, the plants will shrivel, and there will be no getting away from the traffic.
With his "Small Worlds," Frank Kunert confronts a further menacing loss that our experience-driven "fun society" will undoubtedly encounter in the near future: the loss of imaginativeness and invention in the face of entertainment overload, which has already turned small-town, country-style inns and locales into event gastronomies, and made so-called "adventure pool complexes" out of quaint public indoor swimming pools. The fact that Kunert feels neither affected nor threatened by this loss himself can be gleaned from each and every one of his photographs, as well as the very apparent inexhaustibility of his ideas. Just how much work, time and effort has been put into spinning his visual tales, with seeming ease, becomes readily apparent in the sample models that the artist puts on display when he exhibits his photography, even if the viewers only ever get to see pieces of them.
Kunert's art has often been rightfully compared to the poems of Robert Gernhardt. Kunert's "Small Worlds" are equally funny, whimsical, grotesque, and pensive musings, and they are also provocative and critical. It is left up to the viewers to decide if they find the works morbid, or simply funny; if they want to truly see the deeper level of what the stories are telling them, and if they might even dare to elaborate on them.
(This text appears by the kind courtesy of Dr. Christine Donat.)
About Frank Kunert:
Frank Kunert was born in Frankfurt in 1963. After graduating from high school, he became a photographers’ apprentice (from 1984 – 1987).
Thereafter, he worked for various photo studios. He went freelance in 1992, and it was then that he began to find the topics that interested him the most. In recent years, Kunert has mainly focused on creating and taking pictures of his "Small Worlds".
A selection of his published works:
"Spiegel special", "Journal Frankfurt", "Frankfurt geht aus!", "Allegra", "Men's Health", "PHOTO TECHNIK INTERNATIONAL", "PHOTOGRAPHIE", "chrismon", a calendar for Kunstverlag Weingarten, postcards for Edition Inkognito.
A selection of exhibitions where Kunert’s work has appeared:
|2013||Künstlerhaus Metternich, Koblenz|
|2012||Musée des Beaux-Arts Eugène Leroy, Tourcoing (France)|
|2011||Open Studios, Krefeld (as a guest artist at Atelier Feuerfest)|
|2011||Museum of Arts and Design, New York|
|2011||KUNST & KULINARIA, Aachen|
|2011||Galerie Schloßplatz 9, Frankfurt am Main|
|2011||Galerie Handwerk, Koblenz|
|2011||"Kunst am Pompejanum", Aschaffenburger Kulturtage|
|2011||"Abgefahren", Galerie im Alten Rathaus, Aalen|
|2009||Frankfurt Book Fair|
|2009||ART.buy.ART./19. Kunsttage Dreieich|
|2009||2009 KreisMuseum Zons|
|2009||11. Laupheimer Fototage|
|2008||Darmstädter Tage der Fotografie|
|2007||Millard Sheets Center for the Arts at Fairplex, Pomona (USA)|
|2007||Frankfurt Book Fair|
|2007||Artists Association of Frankfurt|
|2006||Tendence Lifestyle, Internationale Frankfurter Messe|
|2006||Cologne Fine Art, Köln, Artbox Frankfurt, Galerie der Editionen|
|2006||Artbox Frankfurt, Galerie der Editionen|
|2006||Ambiente Internationale Frankfurter Messe, Frankfurt|
|2006||"3rd Biennial Dimensional Salon", Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators, New York|
|2005||art fair, Köln, Artbox Frankfurt, Galerie der Editionen|
|2005||KUNSTKÖLN, Artbox Frankfurt, Galerie der Editionen|
|2004||Kunst & Museum Hollfeld, International Fine Art Exhibition in Hollfeld|
|2004||Galerie f 5,6 of photography, Munich|
|2004||Artbox Frankfurt, Galerie der Editionen|
|2004||"2nd Biennial Dimensional Salon" Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators, New York|
|2003/2004||Licher Photo Prize 2003, touring exhibition through Hesse|
|2003||Art Forum Säulenhalle, Groß-Umstadt|
|2002||Art Forum Löwenhof, Frankfurt am Main|
|1998 und 2000||3-Dimensional Illustrators Awards Show, Society of Illustrators Museum of American Illustration, New York|
|1998||Berliner Karikaturensommer, exhibition held at the television tower|
|1997||3-Dimensional Illustrators Awards Show Art Directors Club, New York|
A selection of solo exhibitions:
|2015||La Chambre, Strasbourg (France)|
|2015||art + form, Dresden|
|2013||Museum im Schloss Bad Pyrmont|
|2012||Wandelhalle, Bad Wildungen|
|2012||Museum Villa Grün, Dillenburg|
|2010||Leehyun Seoul Gallery, South Korea|
|2010||Galerie im Turm (Energieversorgung Offenbach AG); with Clemens Bechmann|
|2010||Galerie Hana, Königstein|
|2009||Museum Haus Löwenberg, Gengenbach (with Quint Buchholz)|
|2009||Studio Gertrud Schamschula, Frankfurt (with Gertrud Schamschula)|
|2009||Projektraum EI, Aschaffenburg|
|2008||Galerie Camera Obscura, Dortmund|
|2008||Artbox Frankfurt, Galerie der Editionen|
|2007||Galerie Schloßplatz 9, Frankfurt am Main|
|2007||Galerie Norbert Nieser, Stuttgart|
|2007||FINEARTS.CON.TRA. City Gallery, Berlin|
|2007||art + form, Dresden|
|2007||Historisches Rathaus Hochstadt, Maintal|
|2006||Kunst & Museum Hollfeld|
|2005||KPMG, Frankfurt am Main|
|2005||Galerie Q, Leipzig|
|2005||Little Red Riding Hood Store, Berlin|
|2004||Galerie am Dom, Wetzlar|
|2004||Hessisches Puppenmuseum, Hanau|
|2003||Galerie der Heussenstamm-Stiftung, Frankfurt am Main|
|2003||Pasinger Fabrik - Center for Culture, Munich|
|2003||Showroom Gunnar Hansen, Oberursel|
|2002||Kunstansichten, Mato-Fabrik, Offenbach am Main|
|2002||Galerie Arts & More, Neu-Isenburg|
|2000||Marcolini-Palais, Dresden-Friedrichstadt municipal clinic|
|1997||Holzhausenschlösschen, Frankfurt am Main|
A selection of awards:
|2013||The Bronze Gregor International Calendar Award for “Topsy-Turvy World 2014”|
|2012||The Bronze Gregor International Calendar Award for "Topsy-Turvy World 2013"|
|2011||The Silver Gregor International Calendar Award for "Topsy-Turvy World 2012"|
|2010||2nd place at the EVO Art Competition|
|2009||The Silver German Photo Book Award for "Topsy-Turvy World"|
|2006||Silver medal at the 3rd Biennial Dimensional Salon, New York|
|2004||Kunst & Museum Hollfeld Sponsorship Aware|
|2000/1998/1997||Bronze Award at the 3-Dimensional Illustrators Awards Show, New York|
|1998||2nd place at the Audience Award of the "Berliner Karikaturensommer"|
|1994||Bronze medal, Kodak Panther Work Book|
Frank Kunert is featured on Deutsche Welle's Euromaxx-Show: "Frankfurt Artist Frank Kunert and his Miniature World".