Michael von Hassel | Anna Laudel Düsseldorf

On the occasion of the UEFA EURO 2024, Anna Laudel Düsseldorf presents the artist Michael von Hassel with his work-series ‘Bundesliga Cathedrals’. Over a period of five years, Michael von Hassel visited all 36 stadiums in the first and second Bundesliga and photographed them in his unique way. He gives us an unrivalled view of the most popular sites of German football culture – in a nocturnal atmosphere, deserted and yet brightly lit.

Michael von Hassel’s work opens up a new perspective on a world that seems familiar to many people, as hundreds of thousands of football fans make the pilgrimage there weekend after weekend. The stadiums have never been shown in this way before.

Each of these images consists of around 90 individual shots, which were put together in an elaborate production process. For von Hassel, the preparatory phase involved 36 intensive negotiations with the leaders of this sporting world. He often had to wait for hours to capture the perfect moment. A few stadiums were opened and lit especially for him; some
he was able to photograph before a Sunday evening game in winter, others only after the game, when the stadium was completely empty.

For von Hassel, this meant that he had to retouch the rubbish of around 80,000 people (in Dortmund, for example) from the pictures. In fact, even the smallest cigarette butts at the other end of the stadium can be recognised in these artworks, which represented an enormous amount of retouching.

The final result of this intensive phase of work is presented in the form of a series of images that offers a previously unrivalled representation and is unlikely to be realised again in the foreseeable future: Football stadiums in the silence of the night, deserted and yet illuminated by radiant light. Such a sight is actually unimaginable, because when the stadium is empty, the lights are not normally switched on. In addition, there are often so-called turf solariums on the pitch, which provide the grass with the light it needs to grow.

Hassel’s series shows the whole country in the various emotional meeting places, the Bundesliga ‘Cathedrals’, with all its facets, different religions, generations and social classes peacefully united under one roof in the theme of football. If you look at these pictures, you have to realise that we have become so diverse, even though we all pay homage to the same sport. Michael von Hassel’s exhibition invites visitors on a journey through the stadiums that mean the world to so many.

The world-famous painter and sculptor Markus Lüpertz commented: ‘I think it’s a great idea. Michael has an unusual view of things – and an uncanny chutzpah in his projects.’ The book ‘Bundesliga Cathedrals’ has been published by Callwey to coincide with the European Championship in Germany.

12th June, 2024 Visual Art | Paintings