Helmut Hirler
  • Introduction

  • Bio

  • Exhibitions

  • Publications

  • Links


Helmut Hirler is part of an unbroken tradition of bold pioneers, who for centuries attempted to describe the earth’s strangeness and beauty. When photography became portable in the mid nineteenth century, it outstripped the wordy reports, augmenting and replacing these with the likenesses of landscapes and cultures. To capture these, even photographers would take great pains upon themselves, accompanying explorers on yearlong expeditions or traveling alone, all the better to astound those who stayed at home with his discoveries upon his return. The singular prints and photographic enlargements from this era are an exclusive market today.

Urbane photographer Helmut Hirler takes his motorcycle, his panorama camera in his backpack, for the treks he now finds short, like from his native Allgäu, Germany to the Spanish mountains. Yet the ever-new search for far-flung natural and cultural landscapes also tempts him. Writer Paul Theroux might well express his thoughts: “That is the best mood for a departure: I was ready, I was game for anything. Only later, when you’re en route, do you notice that the greatest distance awakens the greatest illusions and that traveling alone is both a pleasure and a burden.”* Photographer Hirler relates his long, solitary tours in his panoramic images. They often lead him to southern regions; the Asian Pacific region is one of his primary destinations. But he also finds space in his work, which is regularly honored with exhibitions, books, and calendar editions, for the wooded landscapes of his native southern Germany – almost as much as for sprawling deserts, hidden river valleys, and venerable Asian temple complexes.

Hirler has also anchored part of his life and work in New Zealand; high-ranking galleries here also display his images. The true reason for his love of New Zealand, however, lies not only in his success there but also in the artist’s temperament. He calls the best thing about a “one-in-a-century day” being under an open sky with a camera, alone, “not a single person far and wide.” An experience one has seldom in Central Europe – but it is possible in New Zealand, as well as in Iceland, parts of central Spain, and all the areas of untouched nature Hirler tirelessly travels through. “The unknown landscape is enough reason to look for it”* Paul Theroux offers as an answer.

Hirler makes a lot of time for his photographic journeys to new regions, as he did most recently for the entire year of 2007. Hirler had a particular camera in his luggage. The heavy Technorama with a 6x17cm negative format captures images on black-and-white film – only four shots per roll – in hardly beatable brilliance. He often uses infrared materials and perfected filter combinations in order to convey a landscape’s strong sense of drama. In doing so, Hirler reinforces his encounters with nature in his shots, continues the dialogue in the darkroom, and only then, when it truly speaks to him, renders it in a photograph of the finest gray tones. It should tell of solitary wanderings through wide landscapes and their beauty. The phrase “bound to nature” is too insipid for Hirler’s devotedness; something much stronger penetrates the surfaces of his photographs: the unbound love of the visible world.

Horst Klöver

*From Patagonia Revisited by Bruce Chatwin and Paul Theroux, Houghton Mifflin, 1986
1970-1973studies photography
1978-1980Master class, Bayrische Staatslehranstalt für Photographie, Munich, Germany
1979-heuteTechnical tutor, Gewerbliche Schule, Bad Saulgau, Germany

Awards (Selection)

2008iF Communication Design Award (book Castillos)
Red Dot Award (book Castillos)
Red Dot Award (calendar Great Landscapes)
Internationale Kalenderschau Stuttgart, Germany (calendar Trees-Bäume)
2006DDC Award (Design Club Germany)
International Calendar Exhibition Stuttgart, Germany
International KODAK Calendar Award
15. Trierenberg Super Circuit (world's greatest photo competition)
iF Communication Design Award (book Zeit des Wartens)
iF Communication Design Award (book Trees Bäume)
Red Dot Award
2005iF Communication Design Award
2004International Calendar Exhibition Stuttgart, Germany
International KODAK Calendar Award
13. Hasselblad Austrian Super Circuit
iF Communication Design Award
Red Dot Award
1. World of Images Circuit, Linz, Austria
2003International Calendar Exhibition Stuttgart, Germany
International KODAK Calendar Award
International AGFAnet Photo Award
12. Hasselblad Austrian Super Circuit
Societe des Artistes Francais, Le Salon 2003, Paris, France
200211. Hasselblad Austrian Super Circuit
2001International Exhibition of Photography, Oregon, USA
1999AGFAnet International Landscape Competition
International Exhibition of Photography, Oregon, USA  
1998International Exhibition of Photography, Oregon, USA 
Gold medal of the Photographic Society of America,
bronze medal of the Oregon State Fair
Panorama competition of the Kamerawerke Dresden, Germany
1997International Exhibition of Photography, Oregon, USA
World Heritage

Exhibitions (Selection)

Das andere Amerika, cultural and conference center Vöhringen, Ulm, Germany
Castillos, cultural and conference center Vöhringen, Ulm, Germany
Tierra Magica, cultural and conference center Vöhringen, Ulm, Germany
Fragmente - Bilder aus Amerika, Berliner Palais, Unter den Linden, Berlin, Germany
Bilder aus Patagonien, LINHOF-Galerie, Munich, Germany
Castillos, LINHOF-Galerie, Munich, Germany
Schwarz-Weiss, Kunsträume Farmsen, Hamburg, Germany
Die Vergessenen, Werkstattgalerie Tam Uekermann, Cologne, Germany
Arcana Naturae, Haus der  Photographie, Hanover, Germany
Tierra Magica, Galerie Lände, Kressbronn, Germany
Tierra Magica, Fototage, Laupheim, Germany
Von Landschaft inspiriert, Schloss Achberg, Germany
Tierra Magica; and Mahnmale der Endlichkeit, Schloss Salem, Germany
Mahnmale der Endlichkeit, cultural center LINSE, Weingarten/Ravensburg, Germany
Castillos, Plassenburg, Kulmbach, Germany

Castillos, Primacolor, Jakarta, Indonesia

Tierra Magica; and Fragilitas, Rosenau, Kempten, Germany
Tierra Magica, City Hall, Würzburg, Germany
Castillos, Felix-Fechenbach-Haus, Würzburg, Germany
Castillos, Waaghaus, Ravensburg, Germany
Arcana Naturae, Museum Quadrat Bottrop, Germany
Castillos, Kreissparkasse Leutkirch, Germany
Mahnmale der Endlichkeit, Ecumenical Center of Learning Sanctclara, Mannheim, Germany
Photographien 1947-2004, byToni Schneiders and Helmut Hirler, Galerie Fähre Bad Saulgau, Germany
Castillos, Pasinger Fabrik, Munich , Germany
Tierra Magica, Markgrafenschloss Emmendingen, Germany
Zeit des Wartens, Ecumenical Center of Learning Sanctclara, Mannheim, Germany
Panorama Photographie, HOCHTIEF Galerie, Nuremberg, Germany
Wasser, Petrikirche, Kulmbach, Germany
Das Wasserprojekt 1, Reitstadl Neumarkt, Germany
Iceland, VHS-Photo Galerie, Stuttgart, Germany
River East Gallery, Greytown, New Zealand
Panorama, Tin Crab Gallery, Waikanae Beach, New Zealand
Flagstaff Gallery, Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand
Peter Reynolds Interiors, Rotorua, New Zealand
Galerie Kunst und Köstlich; and Neues Schloss, Kisslegg (Allgaeu), Germany
Aotearoa - Das Land der langen weißen Wolke - Bilder aus Neuseeland, Cultural Center LINSE, Weingarten/Ravensburg, Germany
Taylor Jensen Fine Arts, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Books/Catalogs (Selection)

Naturfoto, Schwarz-Weiss, Tecklenburg Verlag
Natur und Kosmos, Munich, Germany
fotoforum, Münster, Germany
Calendar 1996, Castillos
Calendar 1997, New York, Stadler Verlag Konstanz, Germany
Calendar 2007, Holtz Edition, Neudrossenfeld, Germany
Calendar 2009, Holtz Edition, Neudrossenfeld, Germany
Outdoor Photograpie, 2000, LINHOF Präzisionstechnik Munich, Germany

By EDITION PANORAMA, Mannheim, Germany:
Calendar 2003 and 2004, Castillos
Calendar 2004, Nature
Calendar 2005, Nature
Calendar 2005, Castles; und Trees-Bäume
Calendar 2006, Nature
Calendar 2007, Nature
Calendar 2008, Nature
Calendar 2009, Nature
Calendar, Great Landscapes

Zeit des Wartens
New Zealand 

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