Michael Wolf, a notable German photographer and artist who interchangeably works and lives in Paris and Hong Kong; although he was born in Germany, he was raised in America, Canada and Europe. He studied at a public high school, North Toronto Collegiate Institute and went to University of California, Berkeley. Wolf then acquired a degree from University of Essen, Germany, in visual communication in 1976. He started off in photojournalism with Stern, a German magazine, from Hong Kong.
In a competition known as the World Press Photo, he won his first prize in Contemporary Issues in 2004 for his photos published with an article, China: Factory of the World, in Stern. The pictures represented several workers in different factories.
According to Wolf, due to the turn down of the industry of magazines, photojournalism became boring and dense. Hence, in 2003 he started working on projects related to fine art photography.
He has been playing a significant part in the contemporary art landscape. Majority of his work is about daily life in the suburbs. His architectural images are profoundly interesting and each photo creates a unique texture and continuous patterns – Architecture of Density is a series by Wolf representing the tall buildings in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Inside Outside was a book published in 2009 with the images of this project.
American artist John Gossage, German artist Michael Schmidt and others have influenced Wolf during his career. Wolf’s work can be seen in New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and in Essen, Germany at Folkwang Museum.
He has invested his talent in many projects, however some are worth mentioning about. Wolf has done some distinguished artistic works that are praised and acknowledged. Some of such assignments are:
The Real Toy Story, an installation consisting of 20,000 toys that Michael Wolf stuck to the walls with magnets along with photos of workers manufacturing the toys. Hardly anyone would think about the laborers who devote their time and effort in making toys that are meant to entertain people. Wolf has aimed to provide an insight into the lives of those working people who actually assemble and make toys. About 75% of toys in world are made in China and there are different people assigned to deal with various tasks.
Real Fake Art, is a work by Michael Wolf in which he captured the photos of painters in China who reproduced legendary works of art from artists like Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Da Vinci, Hopper, Hockney, Andy Warhol and many more. Each picture included the artist and his/her copied work. A book was also published with the series of photos in 2011.
Bastard Chairs, a series of images of small chairs people would repeatedly repair using any available materials, such as cardboards, plastic, bricks, wood, and etc, in China. Wolf documented these spontaneous street designs of chairs, an object you can rest on. Each chair suggests something about its maker.
In Tokyo Compression, a 2010 book, Michael Wolf showed portraits of people in a crowded subway in Tokyo, Japan. Tokyo Compression, Transparent city and Architecture of Density combined, are all representing a progression from long to close-up shots, a conclusion by a reviewer. After two years, Wolf attained first place for submitting his work in the Daily Life category of World Press Photo Award.
Also, photographs made using Google street view became popular. He used this tool for Manhattan Street View, A Series of Unfortunate Events and Paris Street View. All the series are collectively called, a statement about art, by Michael Wolf.