Even as a small child, Yadegar Asisi was fascinated by the techniques of spatial illusion. His main interest lies in the Italian Renaissance artists of around 1500. Even at 10 years old, the Leipzig schoolboy was inspired by masters such as Andrea Mantegna or Leonardo da Vinci to question how to depict three-dimensional space within a two-dimensional painting. For the young – and, indeed, the adult – Asisi, the technique of drawing is a tool for discovering both the world and oneself. In some of his later callings, the principles of perspective assumed an important role.
Born in Vienna, childhood and youth in Halle and Leipzig
1973 – 1978
Architectural studies, Technical University Dresden
1978 – 1984
Study of painting, University of Arts, Berlin
Visiting professor of architectural studies, University of Arts, Berlin
1996 – 2008
Professor for architectural presentation at the Dept. of Architecture, University of Applied Sciences, Berlin
“Berlin 2005 – Cityvision“
1995, four panorama rotundas, Berlin
Reconstruction of the panorama “Ancient Rome. With the triumphal procession of Emperor Constantine in 312 AD“ by Alexander von Wagner and Josef Bühlmann
1993, Bundeskunsthalle Bonn
Installation for the expansion of the Olympic Stadium
Film for Daniel Libeskind’s architectural competition for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center
"The invisible City", open panorama segments of unrealised projects of urban planning
"South Sea Dreams and Plant Hunters"
“Stadtbild – Stattbild“ (“Urban Image – instead of urban”)
Interior design of the residence theatre of Putbus Palace, Rügen, an anamorphotic painting
“Vestir o Christo Rei“, remodelling of the statue of Christ
“Orbit 2000“, World Exposition EXPO 1992
Railway terminus of the Berlin hover train at the Kemperplatz, Mies van der Rohe award together with studio “Brandt-Asisi-Böttcher“
Breitscheidplatz Berlin, anamorphotic installation
Mural painting at Kottbusser Tor station
“Mauerdurchblick“ (“View through the Wall“), illusionary painting on the Berlin Wall
1986, Berlin Kreuzberg
Motion pictures, e.g. for "Down by law" or "Himmel über Berlin" ("Wings of Desire")
"Backyard with Carriage House", International Building Exhibition at the Martin-Gropius-Bau
Stage design for Carl Millöcker‘s “The Beggar Student“, direction: Ralf Nürnberger
2013, Seefestspiele Mörbisch (Austria)
Stage design for W.A. Mozart‘s “Magic Flute“, direction: Ralf Nürnberger
2004, Leipzig Opera
Stage design for Friedrich von Flotow‘s “Martha“, direction: Ralf Nürnberger
2002, Staatsoperette Dresden
Stage design for Leonard Bernstein‘s “West Side Story“, direction: Ralf Nürnberger
2002, Staatsoperette Dresden
Stage design for Rudyard Kipling‘s "The Jungle Book", direction: Ralf Nürnberger
1992, Stadttheater Heilbronn
Stage design for Luigi Pirandello‘s "Six Characters In Search of an Author", direction: Ralf Nürnberger
1991, Stadttheater Heilbronn
"Anatomic Theatre", anamorphotic installation for the exhibition “Natura et Arte“
2001, Martin Gropius-Bau, Berlin
"Homage to Daniel Buren", panorama rotunda
“Look homeward, Angel“
“Berlin Myth“, installation of Anhalter Bahnhof
1986, installation for the XVIIth Triennial of Milan
"Homage à Gustave Eiffel", drawings und installations
1984, Galerie Marx, Berlin
From 1973 to 1978, Asisi studied architecture at TU Dresden, the place where he discovered the appeal and peculiarities of this city, which was being rebuilt following its destruction in 1945. As the son of a Persian refugee, he was able to leave the GDR in 1978 to go to Iran, where he spent almost a year during the revolution. He returned to Germany in 1979 and, from then until 1984, he attended the High School of the Arts (now the University of the Arts) in Berlin, where he studied painting and was, latterly, a master pupil of Klaus Fußmann.
His mastery of perspective and passion for drawing meant Asisi could, via the Brandt-Asisi-Böttcher architectural practice established in 1982, implement ideas for projects that were accessible to a wide, lay audience. Asisi was one of the first to bring drawing into architectural presentations.
Given his interest in the creation of illusionist spaces, Asisi turned his attention to spatial installations, in which he exploited the technique of anamorphosis. Especially popular in Baroque art, this artistic technique of deliberately distorting ceilings creates a perfect spatial illusion when viewed from a particular point. The room’s existing boundaries are broken and illusively extended. As part of the ‘Mythos Berlin’ exhibition in Berlin in 1987, Asisi created an anamorphous reconstruction of the city's Anhalter rail terminus, which was destroyed in the Second World War. Another spatial illusion, from 1986, was the pictorial reconstruction of East Berlin's St. Michael's Church on the west side of the Berlin Wall in Kreuzberg. After the fall of the Wall in 1989, a piece of it was sent to Pope John Paul II as a gift, and it can now be found in the Vatican Gardens, in Rome.
But it was while working on the 1993 exhibition ‘Desire: The Panorama as Mass Entertainment in the 19th Century’, curated by Marie-Louise von Plessen for the Bundeskunsthalle Bonn, that Yadegar Asisi found his true calling. Asisi did the exhibition architecture, for which he created a pictorial reconstruction of a historic panorama by Alexander von Wagner and Joseph Bühlmann, using a black-and-white concertina photograph as a guide. He realised that by concentrating on this medium, he could combine all his skills in drawing, painting, architecture and as a creator of spatial illusions. By 1995, he had already created four panoramas in Berlin, with the city’s future as a theme. While the masterplans for the redesign of central spaces such as Potsdamer Platz, Pariser Platz, Schlossplatz or Alexanderplatz were being drawn up, he created a corresponding panorama in each case, displaying them in newly-built rotundas, so that both the inhabitants of and visitors to Berlin – in short, everyone – would be able to have informed discussions about the city’s design. The enormous success of the initiative spurred him on and, as a result of further installations and developments, such as his Hansa panorama and the one he did for Daniel Libeskind as part of the competition to rebuild the World Trade Center, he got the opportunity to create his first large-scale panorama, measuring around 3,500 square metres, in his hometown of Leipzig. Asisi realised that there were possibilities, from the content point of view, to develop the panorama concept beyond the limitations of the 19th century.
With this in mind, he created EVEREST, which opened in a former gasometer in 2003. As a result of the unimagined success of this project, a permanent institution was created, with the portmanteau title of Panometer, to describe the synergy of a cylindrical panorama within a circular gasometer. In 2005, he created the ROME 312 panorama, for which he enlarged the format of the pictorial reconstruction he did for the Bonn exhibition and added content. In 2006, he was able to represent the distinctive history of Dresden and its architecture in that city's panometer: the subject of BAROQUE DRESDEN is the mythical ‘Florence on the Elbe’, influenced by Canaletto’s vedute. He followed this up in 2015 with DRESDEN 1945, which depicts the trauma of the destroyed city following its bombardment by the Allies in 1945. Leipzig played host to the nature panorama AMAZONIA in 2009, the LEIPZIG 1813 cityscape in 2013 and another nature panorama, GREAT BARRIER REEF, in 2015. These were followed in 2017 by TITANIC – a discourse on the myth of the modern.
The huge narrative-led pictorial worlds of Yadegar Asisi come to the fore in various sub-genres: city views provide an insight into the stages and forms of man's development; exciting nature displays allow us unimagined views of the most diverse regions and man's relationship with their complex ecosystems; moments from history awaken the collective memory and the sub-conscious. What unites all the works is an inherent interpretation and interpolation of space and time. Compaction is what Asisi himself calls it – in terms of the content and artistic statement being made by the work. So, the likes of GREAT BARRIER REEF or AMAZONIA bring together huge natural spaces in a panorama and deal with the complexity of nature while delighting in the wonders it entails; BAROQUE DRESDEN depicts an entire era; and DRESDEN 1945 awakens the collective memory.
The continuing success of the panoramas in Saxony led, in 2011, to a unique collaboration with the Pergamon Museum in Berlin – the first in the world at the time. PERGAMON featured a panorama of the ancient city by Yadegar Asisi, together with an archaeological exhibition of items from the antiquities collection of the Pergamon Museum, on Berlin's Museum Island. More than a million people visited the exhibition over the course of a year. Since November 2018, the revised Pergamon panorama has been shown in a newly conceived exhibition of the Collection of Classical Antiquities of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Yadegar Asisi and Studio asisi in the newly erected exhibition building Pergamonmuseum. Das Panorama. In 2012, at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, Asisi unveiled his most personal work to date: the panorama THE WALL depicts his own experiences as an eyewitness to the divided city. He presents scenes of everyday life in the shadow of the Wall, thus recreating a period of recent history.
In 2014, Asisi, for the first time, handed panoramas over to partners in various cities: his work can now be seen in the Pforzheim Gasometer, Panorama XXL in Rouen in the north of France and, since 2016, in Lutherstadt Wittenberg and, since 2017, in Hanover. Rouen and Wittenberg were lucky, in that Asisi created works relevant to the cities themselves that fit seamlessly into the series of city panoramas: ROUEN 1431 focuses on the late Gothic period and, through Joan of Arc, a French icon, while LUTHER 1517 depicts the time of the Reformation through Martin Luther himself and conditions in Wittenberg in 1517.
The panorama retrospective and the documentary "Images Transformed Into Space" provide an excellent overview of the development of Yadegar Asisi's immersive panoramic art between 2003 and 2018.