Master cinematographer Robby Müller had never originally intended for the world to see his polaroids: he often shot them quickly, to capture those lost moments in between. But as it happens, British artist and director Steve McQueen (famous for films like 12 Years a Slave and Shame) had remained friends with Müller and wife, after working together on one of McQueen’s projects. They both lived in Amsterdam and when McQueen saw the collection of over 2000 polaroids, he immediately said "Oh, these are so beautiful, you really have to do something with them." Until August 22, Annet Gelink Gallery Annet Gelink Gallery will host a solotentoonstelling by Robby Müller, following several solo exhibitions in the Eye Film Museum, the Deutsche Kinemathek in Berlin and solo presentations in Arles and Rotterdam.
Robby Müller was an incredible cinematographer who made over seventy films with the greats of cinema: from Wim Wenders and Jim Jarmusch to Lars von Trier and Steve McQueen. He captured famous films like Paris, Texas, Down By Law, Breaking the Waves and Dancer in the Dark. He ended up making a total of twelve films with Wenders. In the documentary that Claire Pijman made about Robby Müller, these directors spoke of him in extraordinary terms: from soul mate to twin brother. His film work was characterized by a suggestive combination of low light and a certain calm. He was open to chance, to capture the right, magic moment. Steve McQueen once heard him say, "You have to film like a cat jumps on the table: with just enough effort." Müller won several international oeuvre awards for his film work and in 1988, he acted as a jury member at the Cannes Film Festival. Müller also trained Dutch cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, who in turn was very successful (and received quite a few nominations) for films like Interstellar and Dunkirk.
When Müller's health started deteriorating - he suffered from vascular dementia - his partner Andrea Müller-Schirmer, art historian and photo editor for an art magazine, decided to organise his extensive archive. They had met in 1990, on the set of one of Wender's films. Müller never left the house without a camera and actually preferred polaroid cameras because of their instant results. He took polaroid photos on a regular basis, on his days off and in between takes. Partly for pleasure, but also as a way to experiment with (and study) light, colour, shadow and composition. He loved to photograph in the so-called ‘blue hour’, in which natural light and artificial light meet. He had a talent for finding beauty in the least promising places. Moreover, due to his work as a cameraman, Müller knew better than anyone how to make optimal use of the triangular relationship between light, the photographer and the camera. He would take a photo, study the result, and then take a second, improved photo. Then he would write the date and place on the back and he would keep the polaroid under his shirt for a while, in order to protect it. The exhibition at Annet Gelink Gallery shows a wide range of Polaroid photos as edition prints. This larger format also reveals the incredible details that Müller managed to capture.
Müller would also regularly immortalize his hotel rooms, specifically the light coming in through the windows. His intimate photos show the unpolished, lonely side of life in America: the abandoned parking lots, hard neon signs, empty bus stations and shabby motels. If you look at the photos, it should come as no surprise that Müller was a great admirer of Edward Hopper. After his death in 2018, Jim Jarmusch told the New York Times: “Müller was inspired by painters who used light the way Caravaggio and Vermeer did. I used to tease him that he should have been born in the same century as Vermeer.”