Hannes Schmid – Never Look Back
12 June to 19 September 2010
The cowboy-hero riding across the apparently endless prairie and never looking back is a modern icon decisively shaped by photographic images – as for example in the legendary Marlboro advertising campaign. The Swiss photographer Hannes Schmid took countless photographs for that campaign. Disseminated worldwide on ads and posters, they have repeatedly inspired our visions of freedom and adventure. What is the secret behind the success of this figure? How do you create images so striking that they enter our collective memory? The exhibition at the Fotostiftung Schweiz provides insight into the production of a perfect illusion. It throws light both on “the making of” and on the continued survival of a hero who, alongside Mickey Mouse, Tarzan or Barbie, is one of the most influential figures that never existed.
Hannes Schmid was born in Zurich in 1946. He photographed the Marlboro man between 1993 and 2002. Prior to that he had made a name for himself as a reporter, a photographer of rock groups, and through his work for Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar and Stern. In the field of fashion photography he was known, among others things, for his unusual stagings – pictures which are definitely arranged yet seem like reportage. For the Marlboro commission he succeeded in giving new facets to lend an already established icon.
In addition to commercial commissions Schmid was also frequently involved in free art projects (Maha Kumbh Mela, 2001, For Gods Only, 1998-2006). More recently he has been falling back on his cowboy photographs as models for monumental, photorealistic paintings which he executes in months of meticulously fine work. The result is not deconstruction but an ironic heightening: scenes captured on film in a fraction of a second thus lose their fleeting and fragmentary character.
The exhibition is supported by Dettling & Marmot AG with „The Macallan Rankin“ project, Swiss Federal Office of Culture, Berne, Studio Arte, Zurich, and Ronny Ochsner/Tricolor, Zurich.