Focusing on a lesser known aspect of Walter Pfeiffer's practice, this monograph explores the Swiss photographer's graphic works throughout the decades: large-scale hyper-realistic pencil drawings, drawings in China ink, colored pencils and watercolors, characterized by a joyful sensuality that emanates from his portraits of friends and his floral still lifes.
Walter Pfeiffer is now a world-renowned photographer. Although he began his artistic career as a draftsman, Pfeiffer's drawings are known to precious few. So this book is an overdue overview of his graphic work, continually engaged in a fertile dialogue with his photographic work. In the early 1970s Pfeiffer produced large-scale hyper-realistic pencil drawings that served as points of departure and even working models for his photographs. This style gave rise to personal works as well as Pfeiffer's legendary posters for the Zürich Filmpodium, magazine illustrations and commissioned portraits. Beginning in the 1980s and especially in the ‘90s, Pfeiffer gave up photography for a time to focus on drawings in China ink, colored pencils and watercolors, in which the elegant free play of lines and colors moves into the foreground: intimate portraits of beautiful boys and the artist's close women friends, still lifes and flowers. These pictures are characterized by a cheerful, wakeful sensuality, sure lines and alternation between graphic reduction and a taste for rich ornamentation. This publication is not a conventional retrospective, but a stand-alone artist's book in which to discover the vivacity of his drawings and a new Walter Pfeiffer.
Walter Pfeiffer (born 1946 in Beggingen) is a Zurich-based photographer and graphic designer. He spent a great many years photographing for the underground gay zine scene. His breakthrough didn't come till the turn of the millennium, however, particularly after his book Welcome Aboard – Photographs 1980–2000 was published by Edition Patrick Frey in 2001. Heir to photographers such as Wilhelm von Gloeden or Herbert List and to the painter Paul Cadmus, contemporary of Larry Clark, Nan Goldin or Peter Hujar, he has built a founding work for contemporary photography which has deeply marked the generations of Juergen Teller, Wolfgang Tillmans and Ryan McGinley. Pfeiffer's works can now be found at the Kunsthaus Zürich, Fotomuseum Winterthur and Bundeskunstsammlung Bern as well as in the Windsor Collection and Sir Elton John Photography Collection, among others.