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Light through murky windows

As a teenager, Zurich photographer Katharina Lütscher spent an exchange year in the Dutch city of Haarlem, where she saw the paintings of Frans Hals for the first time. “It’s quite possible that I was influenced by that,” she says. 

Lütscher’s work “Old Master” is an example of how the visual formulas of the old European masters continue today. What had begun as a still life, she carried on with her painter friend Julia Sheppard as a series of portraits. 

“I had the thought that previously models would have to remain in the same position for days on end. I wanted my models to sit in front of the camera with exactly that idea in mind. As a result, each of them were overcome by a total calmness within just a few minutes,” she said.

The quality of the lighting plays a central role in every picture in the series. “I always approached light in the same manner. I imagined a dark room in the past in the Netherlands with a small, badly cleaned window as the only source of light. The dark space and meagre light emit an unbelievable calm, which is transmitted to the work in the studio.” 

(Images: Katharina Lütscher, Text: Thomas Kern,

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR