Walter Schels' artistic interest has for decades been portraits and life in all its diversity — and thus also transience.
“To me withered flowers are analogous to the faces of old people. By making them visible as individuals I place them within the cycle of birth and death. I show their beauty, uniqueness and charm. (…) I have photographed aging flowers with aging film and I am an old photographer with old cameras. In that sense these images are my homage to old age.“ Walter Schels
Walter Schels, born in 1936 in Landshut, southern Germany, worked from 1957 to 1965 as a window dresser in Barcelona, Canada and Geneva before moving to New York to become a photographer. In 1970 he returned to Germany and became known for his character studies of artists, politicians and famous names from the world of arts and letters. For decades he has portrayed animals and flowers with the same intensity. A passionate explorer of physiognomy, Walter Schels sets out to make the essence and personality of a figure visible in the photograph.
In various long-term photographic series, on blind people, the disabled, prematurely-born children and transsexuals, for instance, Schels has pursued exceptional situations in human life. He has received many awards for his series depicting hospice patients shortly before and shortly after their death, including the Hansel Mieth Prize, the World Press Photo Award, a gold medal from the Art Directors Club, Germany, and a Lead Award.
Walter Schels has lived and worked since 1990 in Hamburg. He has published various books and his works have been shown in countless exhibitions in Germany and worldwide and are included in many significant art collections.
“Walter Schels’ gaze is profoundly searching, empathetic, and despite its close-up vision (…) maintains respectful discretion.” F.C. Gundlach