By eliminating orienting details such as references to scale, horizon, and people in his compositions, photographer Wout Berger plays with the line between documentary photography and colorful abstraction. Berger’s images depict naturally occurring scenes of startling beauty, often infused with a sense of Romanticism, so that they effortlessly conjure canonic, art-historical paintings. The 2005 photograph Ditch is particularly indicative of Berger’s work, as it fills the entire field of the camera’s vision with a small, little noticed patch of earth. This zoomed-in, detailed perspective allows the viewer to examine nature’s swirls, eddies of algae, and pond scum; when so closely portrayed, and in such vivid color, the elements of this natural occurrence begin to echo brushstrokes.
Berger’s work has been shown at the Stedelijk Museum and the Rijksmuseum, both in Amsterdam, and the International Center of Photography in New York, as well as at many other institutions and galleries.