Artists who make photographic portraits of celebrated colleagues engage in something rather special: arguably the most existential form of artists’ portraits. Birgit Kleber has portrayed international photographers who have decisively shaped the history of photography and whose images have changed the way we see. Her portraits are always carefully orchestrated; she gives stage directions and asks her artist subjects to assume static postures, making close-ups of their faces and demanding their full attention over the course of several minutes. In doing so, she looks for precisely the moment at which her portrait subjects begin to resist, allowing her to emphasize and reinforce the sense of suspense of the existing photographic setting while carrying this concept to its extreme: since both sides are familiar with all the tricks of the trade, evasion becomes impossible, resulting in artists’ portraits that are unsparingly frank and impressively human.
Birgit Kleber was born in Hanover, Germany, in 1956. Following her training as photographer, she worked as image editor, in television and as assistant director. She currently lives and works in Berlin.
Foreword by Klaus Honnef.