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The Paris-based German artist masterfully coordinates photography, drawing and sculpture in his work, in which surrealism and the colour black, in all its dichotomous variations, rediscover their vital force.

His work is spectral in character; a distortion of the visual and a revision of perspective, offering a fascinating point of view. Marcus Schaefer, a graduate of the Munich Academy of Fashion and Design, quickly fell in love with photography during a compulsory internship. Since then, the Frankfurt-born, multidisciplinary artist, now based in Paris after London, has built his career on capturing his vision of the world in images that border on monochrome art photography. “My work deals with the complex relationship between being human and living in society,” he explains, “Being human essentially means having one’s own reality, whereas living in society means living in a determined, human-made reality.” 

Between Figuration and Abstraction

Marcus Schaefer’s work probes the spectral nature of the colour black with a rare singularity, defining it as “the embodiment of dichotomy”, “multidimensional” and “absorbing”, to reveal different sensibilities. His images express the full complexity of his emotions, translating his multiple “personal escape routes”. They are bewitching and emotionally captivating. Clearly, the aesthetics of the Surrealists haunt his portfolio, with Man Ray and Miró in the lead. Marcus Schaefer marvellously combines fashion photos, intimate portraits, design objects, conceptual images, still lifes and landscapes, giving them a truly contemporary touch. His stagings and visual ambience create a space-time, replaying reality according to his own interpretation of the world and highlighting self-expression.

Black & White vs. Colour

The artist takes the viewer on a timeless journey on the edge between the real and the supernatural. There’s something seductive and captivating about his images, but also unsettling and elusive. A sensation underpinned by the place he gives to imperfection and accident to make the rendering distinctive. While variations in black remain at the heart of the process, his approach to colour is just as nuanced in his approach to themes of identity, intimacy, vulnerability and sensitivity. Marcus Schaefer masters this play of light and shadow, geometry and contrast, props and mirrors, to the point of embracing the forms of painting and sculpture. His drawings are a direct expression of his emotions, guiding his visual narratives in photography, just as his sculptures come to life in the real, three-dimensional world.

Nathalie Dassa


Crédits photo © Marcus Schaefer

France – Paris