By the time Hans-Peter Feldmann began making art in the late 1960s, Pop art and its German variant, Capitalist Realism, had primed viewers to accept everyday objects and images from the popular press as subject matter and material suitable for fine art. Unsatisfied with his skills as a painter, Feldmann built upon this legacy and began to construct and exhibit small books made from postcards, magazine clippings, and other printed sources. His practice has focused on the art of accumulating, cataloguing, and rearranging elements of visual culture, which he has often grouped by typology. Mixing deadpan humor with a systematic approach to collecting and exhibiting, Feldmann’s work has been central to the European Conceptual art scene since the 1970s.
In making 100 Years (2001), Feldmann departed from relying on found images. Instead, the artist photographed 101 family members, friends, and acquaintances ages 8 months to 100 years old. A sense of the past, present, and future amasses through the process of looking at each face, and together the individual portraits form a chronology of human life. This work pays homage to August Sander’s work People of the Twentieth Century, which chronicled all types of individuals living in Germany between the two world wars. Feldmann’s work likewise renders a monumental portrait of our own time.