German-American 1970 -
Jessica Backhaus was born in Cuxhaven, Germany, in 1970 and grew up in an artistic family. At the age of sixteen, she moved to Paris, where she later studied photography and visual communications. Backhaus met famed photographer Gisele Freund in Paris in 1992. Freund was an important mentor and major source of inspiration for Backhaus’ early work. In 1995, Backhaus’ passion for photography drew her to New York, where she assisted photographers, pursued her own projects and lived until 2009.
Rivers, puddles, and shards of glass. Metal spoons and empty bottles. With an eye for texture, layers and serenely saturated colors, Jessica Backhaus makes photographs that reflect the world back to us. “We grow, we change, we evolve,” Backhaus writes in the opening to her 2008 monograph, One Day in November. But while we move, the objects she photographs remain static, warmed by the mid-afternoon sun and preserved by the motion of time. Backhaus is not preoccupied by the sadness of the world around her, although the pictures she takes are often filled with broken, tangled, and abandoned items. Instead, like a philosopher focusing her gaze on the middle distance, Backhaus meditates on color, line, light and shadow.
Backhaus is regarded as one of the most distinguished voices in contemporary photography in Germany today. Her work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including the National Portrait Gallery, London, and the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin. To date, she has five publications to her name: Jesus and the Cherries, 2005; What Still Remains, 2008; One Day In November, 2008; and I Wanted to See the World, 2010, and Once, Still and Forever, 2012, all published by Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg.
Based in Berlin, Backhaus divides her time between Europe and the United States.
Art Collection Deutsche Börse, Germany; ING Art Collection, Belgium; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; Margulies Collection, Miami, Florida; Fond National d’Art Contemporain (FNAC), France; Alexander Tutsek Foundation, Germany