Dieter Blum
American Flag, 1992

  • Pigment print
  • 150 x 100 cm
  • Acquired in 2016
  • Photography

In 1992, Dieter Blum, who started working as a free and applied photographer in the 1960s, was invited to Seymour, Texas, USA by the cigarette brand Marlboro for a test shooting. He developed a set of 70 works that takes the image of the ‘Lonesome Cowboy’ usually used by the campaign, and exposes and undermines it, exaggerate it to absurdity and treats it ironically. Rather, the icon is replaced with a ‘worker’ pursuing normal, everyday activities in a team: a cowboy taking a bath, reading a paper, skiing. Many of Blum’s pieces of pictorial inspirations are gradually revealed through picture sequences; through a series of pictures, stories gradually unfold. There are shots taken close-up and from a greater distance, heavily cropped and extensive perspectives, views from above and from below. At first, the photographs were rejected. However, a commission was given in 1994, and following a succession of five American photographers until 1993, Blum (working simultaneously with the Swiss photographer Hannes Schmid) was the first German photographer to work in this context. During his work until 2004, he not only brought Philip Morris’ advertising campaign to a higher level, but also developed the product advertising much further. The body of around 70 images from the test shoot has not been seen for almost 25 years; they were not used for a subsequent campaign. A few of these images emerged on the art market. The whole body of 58 works, as defined by Blum, have been reworked for the Daimler Art Collection, and were produced and presented for the first time at Daimler Contemporary in 2016. Re-photographing the standard American myths, Richard Prince, a star of the current art market, inevitably referenced Blum’s photographs. The reception of Dieter Blum’s photographs within the context of art has only just begun, since he found an entirely new interpretation for the figure of the cowboy, who represents a contemporary and historically charged genre of both high and trivial culture.

 

Dieter Blum

* 1936 Esslingen, D
Lives and works inDüsseldorf, D
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