Exhibition of New York-based photographer Vera Lutter at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, This Month

The artist’s first exhibition in Houston features 12 large-scale images, several on view for the first time in the United States

HOUSTON—November 24, 2015—This month, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, presents Vera Lutter: Inverted Worlds, a mid-career survey of 12 monumental photographs by New York-based German artist Vera Lutter. Each of Lutter’s photographs is a one-of-a-kind negative print, created inside a darkened room, shipping container, or specially constructed cabin that has been transformed into an enormous pinhole camera. Far from the instantaneity of most modern photography, her images—which measure as large as 8 by 12 feet—can take hours, days, or weeks to produce. With subject matter ranging from modern shipyards and postindustrial ruins to the visual chaos of New York’s Time Square and the serenity of Piazza San Marco in Venice, her photographs present an eerie alternative universe parallel to the one we know: tonally reversed, laterally mirrored, and devoid of people due to their long exposures. Although her work has been collected and displayed widely in Europe and the United States, this is the artist’s first exhibition in Houston, and it includes several photographs being shown for the first time anywhere. The exhibition, which is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is on view from November 21, 2015, to March 20, 2016.

“We are particularly pleased to be able to introduce Houston audiences to the work of this important and innovative artist, and I feel certain that our public will find Vera Lutter’s work as entrancing as we do,” said Museum director Gary Tinterow. “At the very moment when analog negatives are disappearing from photographic practice, she has found new magic in the traditional materials and techniques of her medium.”

Vera Lutter: Inverted Worlds includes work from eight projects spanning nearly two decades. Among the photographs prominently featured is San Marco, Venice, XX: December 3, 2005, recently acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The two-panel piece shows the Ducal Palace and the façade and bell tower of Saint Mark’s, as well as the flooded piazza that serves as the central square of Venice. “This is an especially appropriate acquisition for an encyclopedic museum like ours, with collections that include painted views of Venice by Canaletto and Guardi, Venetian glass, and prints and photographs of the city’s landmarks,” commented Malcolm Daniel, curator-in-charge of the Museum’s Department of Photography. “With a photography collection that spans the full history of the medium, Lutter’s San Marco also allows us to make connections between contemporary art and photographs of the past, from early photographic negatives to modernist experiments made during the interwar period.”

About the Artist
Born in West Germany, Vera Lutter studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich, before relocating to New York City to receive her MFA from the School of Visual Art. Inspired by the city lights and architecture of her new surroundings, Lutter began experimenting with photography.

Vera Lutter was first celebrated for her now-iconic images of the Pepsi-Cola sign atop an abandoned bottling plant across the East River from midtown Manhattan. The ten-foot-wide example in the exhibition, Pepsi Cola, Long Island City, VI: May 28, 1998, is drawn from the collection of Shelley Fox Aarons and Philip Aarons. Other New York-based images in the exhibition include the interior of the Pepsi plant, Times Square, the Chrysler Building, the view through a giant clock face in Brooklyn looking toward the Manhattan Bridge and New York skyline, and a wooded landscape in the snow near Cold Spring, New York, being shown in the United States for the first time.

Among the other industrial views for which Lutter is best known is Kvaerner Shipyard, Rostock, Warnemünde, IX: December 5, 2000, a three-panel work more than ten feet wide, loaned to the exhibition by Peter Josten and Sam Trower, which depicts an enormous oil rig under construction; and Rheinbraun, IX: August 30, 2006, an image of the world’s largest strip-mine machinery, from the collection of Larry Gagosian. Two images from 2013 of the intricate and other-worldly radio telescope at Effelsberg, Germany, also make their debut in this exhibition. San Marco, in addition to several other photographs Lutter produced in Venice in 2005, including a view of the Church of Santa Maria della Salute on loan from the Joseph M. Cohen Family Collection, represent a break from a decade of imagery focused almost exclusively on urban and industrial subjects.

Exhibition Schedule
Following its presentation at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Vera Lutter: Inverted Worlds will be on view at the New Orleans Museum of Art from April 15, 2016, to July 17, 2016.

Related Programs
Vera Lutter will speak about her work in a public lecture in the Museum’s Brown Auditorium Theater on February 23, 2016, at 6:30 p.m.  

Organization and Funding
This exhibition is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Generous funding is provided by:
Gagosian Gallery
Joseph M. Cohen
Peter Josten and Sam Trower

About the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Established in 1900, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is among the 10 largest art museums in the United States, with an encyclopedic collection of more than 65,000 works dating from antiquity to the present. The main campus comprises the Audrey Jones Beck Building, designed by Rafael Moneo and opened in 2000; the Caroline Wiess Law Building, originally designed by William Ward Watkin, with extensions by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe completed in 1958 and 1974; and the Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden, designed by Isamu Noguchi and opened in 1986. Additional spaces include a repertory cinema, two libraries, public archives, and facilities for conservation and storage. Nearby, two house museums—Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, and Rienzi—present American and European decorative arts. The MFAH is also home to the Glassell School of Art and its acclaimed Core Residency Program and Junior and Studio Schools; and the International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA), a leading research institute for 20th-century Latin American and Latino art.

1001 Bissonnet, Houston, Texas 77005 | www.mfah.org | 713.639.7300

Media Contacts
Laine Lieberman, associate publicist
llieberman@mfah.org / 713.639.7516