(Niemegk, Germany, 1935 - )
Although he is now widely regarded as one of the most important living German photographers, Dieter Appelt began his career as an opera singer. From 1954-1958, Appelt studied music at the Mendelssohn Bartholdy Akademie in Leipzig. Here he developed an interest in modern composers such as Schoenberg and Janácek, but more importantly for his later work in the visual arts, was exposed to painting by avant-garde artists in the Fauvist and Constructivist traditions. In 1959, Appelt left East Germany for West Berlin in order to continue his study of music at the Hochschule der Musik. In Berlin, he met the experimental photographer Heinz Hajek-Halke and began his study of photography and art under Hajek-Halke’s direction at the Hochschule für bildende Künste. After passing his music exams, Appelt began working for the Deutsche Oper Berlin, but continued studying photography through 1964. Appelt had have his first exhibit ten years later.
In 1976, Appelt traveled to Monte Isola, Italy, which began a period of increased focus on photographic work. Three years later, at age forty-four, Appelt left the Deutsche Oper Berlin to fully devote himself to photography and visual art. In the years that followed, he traveled extensively and worked on developing “slow” photography techniques (sometimes involving the use of long exposures) to record the passage of time. Appelt also conveys the movement of time by placing many of his photographs in groups or series, and by creating images partly rooted in memories of growing up in Germany during World War II. Upon his return to Berlin in 1982, Appelt was appointed head of the department of film, video and photography at the Hochschule für bildende Künste. His work has been exhibited throughout Europe, as well as at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City and the Art Institute of Chicago in Illinois. In 2005, the Akron Art Museum awarded Appelt the Knight Purchase Prize for Photographic Media. Appelt is currently a professor emeritus at the Hochschule für bildende Künste in Berlin.