Germany in the late 1970s was to become the fertile ground that was to yield the major figures in the boom in contemporary photography in the last decade. Many of these seeds were the students and staff at the Folkwangschule (Folkwang School) in Essen, which Otto Steinert had established as West Germany’s leading training ground for professional photographers.

The Germans embraced the gaudy blandishments of advertising without abandoning the keen observations of documentary photography. They emulated the grandeur of German Romantic painting and the principled reserve of Minimalist abstraction in part by exploring the hyperbolic fictions of digital manipulation and constructed realities.

The contemporary photography from Germany in the Nineties sets forth a commanding image of contemporary reality, which may seduce or repel us–or both at once. In any case, these photographs do not so much mirror as embody this gorgeous, cold-hearted spectacle.

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