Wilhelm Schürmann

Wilhelm Schürmann

1946 - Present

Wilhelm Schürmann’s black-and-white photographs present homes in the borderland areas of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands – and the buildings really do have their own character, for Wilhelm Schürmann’s photos of a house always tell a story about the occupants without ever showing them. Instead, what we view is a window sill that is somehow askew, an unorthodox front garden, strange gables, each attesting to the occupant’s presence.

“Self-made architecture” is what Wilhelm Schürmann calls these bizarre products of a human hand. Often it is only details that transform a uniform edifice into a personalised building, giving it a physiognomy entirely of its own – or, to quote Schürmann, “giving a thing a face”.

Several criteria underline the ostensible matter-of-fact trust: the typological approach, the serial nature of the photos, the carefully composed lack of depth, the sky in uniform gray. It is another element that fissures this gloss, namely humour. That, he claims, is the “most important thing of all” in art. This is why in Schürmann’s images there is certainly no lack of humour: “I love that human factor in images, those bizarre moments in life.” But he leaves it to us to discover these abstruse qualities in the pictures of houses.

Today, Wilhelm Schürmann is known primarily as a collector and curator of contemporary art. In the early 1990s he stopped taking pictures altogether. “What I had to say was already in the world.”