While not being formally associated with the Düsseldorf School of Photography the serial character of Ulrich Hensel’s images and his similarly methodical approach suggests certain parallels to the school of Bernd and Hilla Becher. Andreas Gursky, with whom for some time he shared a flat, is said to be a fan of his work. Gurskys famous image Gasherd from 1980 was shot in their flat. However, Hensel’s oeuvre is viewed as occupying a unique place among the photographic art to come out of Germany.
For nearly two decades, Ulrich Hensel has been working almost obsessively focussing on one single subject: construction sites. His images are often abstract and sometimes minimalist – “grids, dots, fastenings and iron grilles extend across the pictures in rigorous formations defined by the functions of the objects shown” – and inevitably create associations with the geometric abstract art of Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian. The technical world of rebars, Lintels, insulation, wall markings, cladding and steel bars in his works are the metaphers to works from Mark Rothko, Donald Judd as well as Cy Twombly. Like Leonardo da Vinci recognized a world from drawings in a weathered wall, Ulrich Hensel loves to look at construction sites.
In contrast to Andreas Gursky, who in recent years has been heavily relying on computers to edit and enhance his pictures, Hensel is concerned with authenticity and avoids digital manipulations. His large-format photographs are described as “unobtrusive and complex at the same time”.