Wim Wenders' world: through his lens

The director of Paris, Texas works with analog cameras, without artificial light

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The director of Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire, as well as the documentary Buena Vista Social Club, is also an avid photographer. To mark his 70th birthday this week, Schirmer/Mosel is publishing Wim Wenders’ book 4 Real & True 2!,which includes recent photographs taken near Fukushima after the nuclear disaster. There are also photographs from the series Written in the West, Once, Pictures from the Surface of the Earth, Journey to Onomichi and photographs taken at Ground Zero just after 9/11.

The book is a catalogue of his current retrospective at Dusseldorf’s Museum Kunstpalast. Wenders, who has said “photography is the other side of my life”, has been taking photographs alongside his film projects for more than 50 years. He works with analog cameras, without artificial light or a tripod. He began his first photo series, Written in the West, while location hunting in the American West for the Palme d’Or-winning Paris, Texas.

His cinematic images of desolate landscapes and urban vistas include blue American buses of the Calvary Baptist Church lined up in the desert in Odessa, Texas; a dust road in West Australia; an open-air screen in Palermo, Italy, with rows of empty plastic orange chairs; and an abandoned Ferris wheel in Armenia. Others depict a serene forest in Brandenburg in Germany, a bright-yellow roller-coaster in Montreal, Canada; and a crumbling orange building in Havana. There’s also a retriever dog who befriended Wenders on the road to Ayers Rock in Australia.

Wenders, who lives in Berlin with his wife Donata, was awarded the Honourary Golden Bear for his lifetime achievement at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival and he has been nominated for an Oscar for his latest documentary, on the photographer Sebastião Salgado.

About his photographs, he says: “It must be some sort of built-in radar that often directs me to places that are either strangely quiet or quietly strange.”


Wim Wenders’ ‘4 Real & True 2!’ is published by Schirmer/Mosel, £20