For fifteen or so years now, Xavier Zimmermann has been focusing his research on the landscape.
In 2004, he produced Paysages français, in which each photograph is composed according to the same layout: a strip of land and trees dominated by a sweeping sky that takes up three-quarters of the image. Zimmermann doesn't just snap his photographs at random. In the same way as a painter does, he devotes time to finding the right setting for composing each of his shots with the utmost care. As a surveying photographer, he scrutinises the ordinary reality of these landscapes and transforms them through the images he captures.
At Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire, Xavier Zimmermann is showcasing Paysages ordinaires and Canopée, which he has created especially for this commission.
"Xavier Zimmermann toys with a shallow depth of field to bring out different grounds in the image: hazy areas in the foreground and background and a clear area in the middle ground. In this way he obtains a blurred image in which fragments stand out and catch our eye with their clarity. These are ordinary landscapes... And yet, they are not bound by the limits of memory, of an overall impression, but shed light on an element of the whole and force us to study this in all its precision. In this way Zimmermann makes visible what is generally lost in the bigger picture, like in some photographs where he shines the spotlight on what is right on the ground, bringing to the fore the majestic curve of a blade of grass or the delicacy of a leaf resting on the ground. He also introduces emotion and even emotionalism into these landscapes through areas of haziness - as if our vision suddenly became blurred. This contrast between the distinct and indistinct creates a tension, challenging the way we see things and the way what we see is constructed, in the same way as in a photograph... His work on the balance of forms is somewhat similar to pictorial research". Marie-Jeanne Caprasse
"The canopy is the upper level of the forest, directly influenced by the sun's rays. It is considered to be a habitat or an ecosystem in its own right. It forms an upper layer a few metres deep, and harbours 80% of the trees' leaves. This is where most of the sun's energy is captured. My work on the landscape examines the way in which we see it and the way in which we take it on board. At first light, aboard a 27-metre aerial platform, the tree tops come into view as if by magic and each and every detail comes sharply into focus. Imperceptible from the ground, each branch is now revealed. Climbing up to the tree tops is like exploring the ocean floor. Seeing what can't be seen from the ground, touching what is out of reach. And we thus become aware of the force of nature and its fragility". Xavier Zimmermann
Xavier Zimmermann au Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire, 2015 - © Éric Sander
Xavier Zimmermann was born in 1966 in Paris. He lives and works in Créteil.
He was a resident at the Villa Médicis in Rome from 1993 to 1994. Since 1991 XavierZimmermann has taken part in a whole host of personal exhibitions.
He has taught at the EESI Angoulême Poitiers (École européenne supérieure de l’image) since 1995.