Udo Hesse

(1955) German


Udo Hesse was born in Troisdorf, and began his photographic education in Berlin in 1976. His first project, in 1978, involved photographic documentation of industrial architecture in Great Britain. Since then, a freelance commercial photographer, Hesse works primarily in black-and-white, and in all camera formats. His project Haut und Haar, a series of extremely close-up images of human skin and hair, differs greatly from his portrait, dance, and architectural photographs of the last twenty years. Hesse's photographs, especially his portraits, have appeared in Art News, Interview, and Stern, among other publications. He is working on two book projects, one concentrating upon his photographs of East Berlin in the 1980s, and the other presenting a selection of his portraits of architects. Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon, and Irving Penn are important influences on his work.
Hesse's macroscopic examination of human skin and hair is part of the wealth of body-based imagery created by artists in the 1980s. Exploring the topography of the body in photographs not unlike those of his contemporary John Coplans, Hesse uses a large-format camera to capture the texture and substance of flesh in crisp, intense detail. He treats our basic corporeal material as simple fact, but effectively makes strange what is most intimate and universal to us all.
Cynthia Fredette
Handy et al. Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection, New York: Bulfinch Press in association with the International Center of Photography, 1999, p. 218.
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