Beate Gütschow was born in 1970 in Mainz, West Germany. She studied at the Kunsthøgskolen I Oslo (1997) and graduated from the Hochschule für bildende Künste, Hamburg (2000), after studying under photographers Bernhard Johannes Blume and Wolfgang Tilllmans. Gütschow began her training as a realist painter and later extended her explorations of verisimilitude to installation and photography. Her practice, framed by an evaluation of pictorial presentations of reality, involves digital assemblages of image fragments culled from her own analog photography.
Concerned with interpretations of the sublime, Gütschow’s first series, LS (1999–2003), an abbreviation of landschaft (German, “landscape”), is a collection of digitally reconfigured montages, arranged using the predefined format of 17th- and 18th-century traditional landscape painting. Rebuilding this schema using photography, Gütschow constructs a romantic landscape while challenging the evocation of reality within the photographic medium. Similarly, the S series (2004–09), named after stadt (German, “city”), digitally amalgamates multiple fragments into one cohesive black-and-white photograph. Synthesizing content-stripped images of diverse architectural structures with varied geographic locations results in what appears to be reality, though an underlying impression of disunity resounds. Through this use of collage that incorporates multiple perspectives, Gütschow’s work reveals faults in the urban social ideal. Her most recent series, I(2009–12), for interior, turns toward the indoor space of her studio to analyze the meanings applied to objects as a result of photographic representation. Using techniques employed in product photography, the artist strategically arranges objects, both mundane and culturally weighted, and adds directional side lightning to enhance textures. For these works, the montage is no longer a digital process; instead, it happens before the lens through the peculiar arrangements of incomparable objects. The results, images almost surreal with their artificial air, are consistent with Gütschow’s body of work in that they question the honesty of visual representation.
Gütschow has been awarded numerous prizes and residencies, including the Villa Aurora fellowship, Los Angeles (2001); Otto-Dix-Preis/IBM Kunstpreis Neue Medien, Gera, Germany (2001); Ars Viva award, Berlin (2006); and Nirox Foundation residency, Johannesburg (2008). Her work has been installed in solo presentations at a range of international institutions, including Danziger Projects, New York (2004); Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago (2007); Haus am Waldsee, Berlin (2008); Sonnabend Gallery, New York (2009); Produzentengalerie Hamburg (2010); and St Paul Street Gallery, Auckland (2011); as well as one in dialogue with the work of Tomas Ramburg at Fotogalleriet, Oslo (2011). Her work was featured at the Venice Biennale (2007) as well as in major group shows that examine realism in contemporary art, including those at the FLAG Art Foundation, New York (2009); Kunsthal Rotterdam, Netherlands (2010); Kunsthaus, CentrePasquArt, Biel, Switzerland (2010); and Kunsthaus Hamburg (2011). Gütschow lives and works in Cologne and Berlin.