Museum Exhibition Catalogues, Monographs, Artist's Projects, Curatorial Writings and Essays
"Imagine an optical device designed to project—and then to trace—a virtual image of desire onto the plane surface of everyday life. That would be Walter Pfeiffer's libidinal camera lucida. Since the late 60s, beginning in his native Zurich, Pfeiffer has sought (and caught) images of youth and beauty as if on an endless quest, the avocation of the entwined hedonism and reportage its own reward. And ours. It's a quest others have pursued before and since: Pfeiffer is heir to photographers such as Wilhelm von Gloeden and Herbert List and the painter Paul Cadmus as well as a contemporary of Larry Clark, Nan Goldin, and Peter Hujar. Pfeiffer … has been exploring the eroticized territory of the everyday for more than 30 years, and this is where we find many younger photographers working today, most notably Jack Pierson, Wolfgang Tillmans, Terry Richardson, and Ryan McGinely. Possibly the least well known of all these artists, Walter Pfeiffer remains a central but elusive figure."
Bob Nickas, excerpted from the chapter "Camera Libido: The Photography of Walter Pfeiffer," published in Nickas' essential essay collection, Theft is Vision.
Published by Swiss Institute/Lenz Press. Edited with introduction by Simon Castets, Daniel Merritt. Text by Devrim Bayar, Dean Kissick, Meredith North, Jose Segebre, Wayne Koestenbaum.
Inspired by the illustrated alphabets found in abecedariums, this new book on Walter Pfeiffer (born 1946) presents playful and illuminating insights into the Swiss artist’s practice from A to Z, annotated by Pfeiffer himself. The book also features new texts reflecting on five decades of Pfeiffer’s artistic output from an international group of curators, critics and writers. At once a meticulously crafted artist’s book and a comprehensive monograph, Walter Pfeiffer demonstrates the artist’s sustained commitment to exquisite, innovative publications. This book is part of Swiss Institute’s newly redesigned SI Series. Each book in the SI Series adds context through seminal essays, archival materials, event transcripts, artist portfolios and exhibition documentation, as well as reprints and new translations of important texts.
Published by Edition Patrick Frey. Text by Martin Jaeggi.
Walter Pfeiffer is now a world-renowned photographer. Although he began his artistic career as a draftsman, Pfeiffer’s drawings are known to precious few. So this book is an overdue overview of his graphic work, continually engaged in a fertile dialogue with his photographic work. In the early 1970s Pfeiffer produced large-scale hyper-realistic pencil drawings that served as points of departure and even working models for his photographs. This style gave rise to personal works as well as Pfeiffer’s legendary posters for the Zürich Filmpodium, magazine illustrations and commissioned portraits. Beginning in the 1980s and especially in the ‘90s, Pfeiffer gave up photography for a time to focus on drawings in China ink, colored pencils and watercolors, in which the elegant free play of lines and colors moves into the foreground: intimate portraits of beautiful boys and the artist’s close women friends, still lifes and flowers. These pictures are characterized by a cheerful, wakeful sensuality, sure lines and alternation between graphic reduction and a taste for rich ornamentation. This publication is not a conventional retrospective, but a stand-alone artist’s book in which to discover the vivacity of his drawings and a new Walter Pfeiffer.
Published by Edition Patrick Frey. Edited by Martin Jaeggi.
Walter Pfeiffer's Scrapbooks from 1969 to 1982 are a very unique Wunderkammer. Pfeiffer's polaroids and photographs alternate with miscellaneous objects newspaper clippings, postcards, packaging, tickets and brief punning notes. Pfeiffer assembles all of this into a large collage full of surprising references and comparisons that is both a visual diary and creative foundation of his artistic work. In his Scrapbooks, Pfeiffer's keen view of Eros, Zeitgeist and popular culture, his disrespectful humor as well as his appreciation for the poetry in the mundane and banal, are sharply revealed. They offer a view into Pfeiffer's meandering and playful universe and are a contemporary document that captures the Zeitgeist of the 1970s and 1980s with ephemeral elegance.
Published by Hatje Cantz. Edited by Markus Bosshard, Christoph Doswald, Jürg Trösch, Dorothea Strauss.
This oversized, supersexy monograph features the most recent work of the cult photographer Walter Pfeiffer, also known as an artist, poster designer, playwright and filmmaker. Pfeiffer has been shuttling back and forth for years between the visual worlds of art and lifestyle. Whether he is picturing a pile of shiny silver film canisters or a young man doing a handstand in his underwear, Pfeiffer's photographs always convey a distinct, often homoerotic, sensuality. When working with models, he spends long hours developing a melancholic, seductive atmosphere that has been called somnambulant, even as he avoids any trace of the voyeuristic or crude. He is also able to locate everyday moments that express a youthful joi de vivre, giving ordinary objects and subjects a new chance at glamour, dignity or beauty.
Published by Edition Patrick Frey. Text by Martin Jaeggi, Michelle Nicol.
Zurich artist Walter Pfeiffer presents us with more than 100 portraits of women in his new book Cherchez la femme! Most of these photographs are being published for the first time and show a new facet to Walter Pfeiffer's rich oeuvre. Pfeiffer celebrates his quest for beauty and glamour with sophistication, irony, and wit. He guides you through a world residing between reality and reverie, snapshot and mise-en-scene. With simple means he creates intelligent and classic images of beauty and bliss, imbued with a wistful awareness of their artifice. Stylish, suggestive, and erotic, his images create an encyclopedia of desire. Clever and elegant, Walter Pfeiffer's photographs elude classification and create a world of their own, thereby suspending the viewer between the being and seeming. The photographs spurn the indexical gesture of documentary photography, invested, as it is, with solemn intensity and mired in the delusion of a one-to-one rendition of reality. However, they are equally wary of wallowing indiscriminately in the phantasmagoria featured in the elaborately staged photography of recent years. Instead, Pfeiffer's recent pictures are utopian variations on reality that undercut the blunt documentary assertion of factuality with the narrative "once upon a time" of a fairy tale.
Published by JRP|Ringier. Edited by Nicolas Trembley.
Walter Pfeiffer began practicing photography in the 1970s with no technical ambition, but with the will to provide a new visual vocabulary for beauty, eroticism and freedom of spirit. His work gained its initial recognition through an underground network of admirers, and today it has achieved cult status. (In a 2003 Artforum review, Bob Nickas wrote: 'Imagine an optical device designed to project--and then to trace--a virtual image of desire onto the plane surface of everyday life. That would be Walter Pfeiffer's libidinal camera lucida. Since the late 6os÷Pfeiffer has sought (and caught) images of youth and beauty as if on an endless quest, the avocation of entwined hedonism and reportage its own reward. And ours.')Over the time that Pfeiffer spent exploring the sexualization of the everyday in that work, he also directed several videos showing his friends hanging out in his Zurich studio. For the very first time, these rare and funny scenes, Music for Millions (1977) Kawasaki Cut (1985) and The Plaza (1985-2001) have here been compiled on DVD. Their release provides the occasion to reassess Pfeiffer's pioneering positions both in contemporary art and in the culture at large.
Published by JRP|Ringier. Photographs by Walter Pfeiffer.
Full-bleed black and white images, a lack of captions, extreme body close-ups, boys and boys and more boys: these are the trademarks of Walter Pfeiffer's now out-of-print 1980 cult classic. As an autodidact, Pfeiffer started taking photographs without any technical ambition, but with the will to provide a new visual vocabulary for beauty, eroticism and freedom of life. The images depict the 1970-1980 Zurich scene: some feature Pfeiffer's friends hanging out in the studio, nearly all explore the sexuality of the everyday. Organized in stunning visual sequences, the book brought the public's attention to Pfeiffer's polaroids and established him as a sort of underground icon. This faithful reprint of the original visually demonstrates how the documented decade of Pfeiffer's work flirted with gay subculture, and later became a template for today's magazine imagery.
Published by Edition Patrick Frey. Text by Martin Jaeggi.
Walter Pfeiffer, whose work in the 1970s and 1980s prefigured many of the decisive developments in contemporary art today, is a classic artist’s artist—famous and beloved among art aficionados, yet almost forgotten by the public at large. Now, it’s the time to discover him as his images seem timelier than ever. Welcome Aboard! Photographs 1980–2000 is, at the same time, a monograph on Pfeiffer’s photographic work and an artist’s book, a photo-novel all of its own. Pfeiffer takes you on a long trip from suburban bliss to the horse race at Ascot, from wind-swept beaches to majestic mountain tops. Pfeiffer knows our dreams and artfully plays with them. In his still lives, landscapes, and portraits of beautiful boys and mischievous women, Pfeiffer celebrates his quest for beauty and glamour with sophistication, irony, and wit. Pfeiffer leads you in a world between reality and reverie, snapshot and mise-en-scene. It’s a photo album from Arcadia. With simple means Pfeiffer creates intelligent and classic images of beauty and bliss, imbued with a wistful awareness of their artifice. Stylish, suggestive, and erotic, his images are an encyclopedia of desire.