Christoph Niemann at Janet Borden

By Peggy Roalf   Wednesday February 21, 2024

In an interview for It’s Nice That, Christoph Niemann (1970) said, “A drawing is like when you describe something to a reader in three sentences.” In a few words, the artist/author/animator, who mainly works from Berlin, captured the essence of what is illustration at its best. On Thursday, February 29, he will be in New York for an exhibition of his Photo Graphics at Janet Borden Gallery. The reception is from 6 to 8 pm. Info

Niemann, whose work appears regularly on the covers of  The New Yorker,  National Geographic and The New York Times Magazinecreated the cover for AI20 [left], which is available as a print. He has also drawn live from the Venice Art Biennale, the Olympic Games in London, and he has sketched the New York City Marathon — while actually running it. He created The New Yorker’s first Augmented Reality Coveras well as a hand drawn 360 degree VR animation for the magazine’s US Open issue. Clients include Hermés, Google, LAMY, and The Museum of Modern Art.

In 2010, Niemann was inducted into the Art Directors Club Hall Of Fame. He is a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale, and is the author of several books, including the monograph “Sunday Sketching”, “Abstract City“, “Pianoforte”, “The Paper”, “Hopes and Dreams”, “Souvenir” and “Words”, a visual dictionary for children. His most recent book “Zoo” is about his visits to the two Berlin zoos during the second lockdown in 2020. With Jon Huang he created the kids’ apps Petting Zoo and Chomp. His work is subject of an episode of Abstract, an original Netflix series. 

I’m including a text extract from a show of Niemann’s Photo Graphics that was shown last month at Kiken Berlin that offers some insights on this side of his practice: “Niemann’s work depicts and describes the affairs of the day with a light hand and thoughtful commentary. One of the primary topics of his work is how visual culture today is being renegotiated….Niemann’s work conceptually draws on various movements of the twentieth-century avant-garde. These include interest in everyday culture and photographic work, in which he bridges media by adding illustration to photographs and thus carries the torch of dada’s and surrealism’s collages, montages, and readymades….

“In his photo drawings, the artist reshapes and extends photographs he has taken around the world with illustrated figures and objects, just as in his cult Sunday Sketches. Niemann follows a tradition of artists such as Saul Steinberg (1914-1999) and Tomi Ungerer (1931-2019) who also transcended media to combine illustration and photography. Steinberg designed new visual works by enlivening photographs, and other images, of ordinary places and things with drawn lines, imbuing them with new meaning.”

Janet Borden Inc., 91 Water Street, Dumbo, Brooklyn Info