Berlin Cityscapes, 1977 – 1983
Berlin after 45, 1980
Cityscapes, 1981, 1989/90, 1989/2009


The provisional postwar character of Berlin cityscapes were marked by gaps between buildings, brownfields and scarred facades. Between 1978 and 1980 he photographed deserted vistas devoid of human life in Berlin’s Friedrichstadt, a district that had been particularly badly hit in the war. Here too vacant lots and derelict industrial and commercial buildings set the tone, photographed in diffuse light with a large plate camera. He had arrived at pictorial compositions that uniquely combined documentation and abstraction. Berlin nach 45 (Berlin since 45) was not presented and published until a quarter of a century after its completion.

In 1989/90 Michael Schmidt turned his attention to his native city for the last time, documenting the visual evidence of the consequences of unification. He found many of his motifs in the border strip and the no-man’s land near the former wall. Entitled 89/90, this work, too, was published with great delay in 2010.