Born in Germany, then raised in Europe, Canada, and the United States, Wolf began his interest in photography when studying at UC Berkeley and the Folkwang School with Otto Steinert in Essen, Germany. Wolf later moved to Hong Kong in 1994 to begin his artistic career as a contract photographer for Stern Magazine. Since 2001, Wolf has been focusing on his own projects, drawing his focus to the tradition of socially concerned photography, while also engaging with the radical transformation of photography of recent years. From this unique perspective, he has produced a body of work which deals with the complex reality of contemporary city life in a way that defies categorization.
Wolf found his inspiration as an artist in Hong Kong and China, where ever-shifting cityscapes provided him with constant stimulation. Rather than creating images that describe the immensity of China’s urban transformation, Wolf’s work in this region is based on the power of the vernacular. By ‘collecting’ a series of these urban minutiae he has been able to paint a much larger picture, not only of the contemporary Chinese city, but rather of the more universal realities of urban life.
Michael Wolf’s work has been exhibited in numerous locations including the Venice Biennale for Architecture; Aperture Gallery, New York; Museum Centre Vapriikki, Tampere, Finland; Museum for Work in Hamburg, Germany; Hong Kong Shenzhen Biennial; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago. His work is held in many permanent collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Brooklyn Museum, New York; San Jose Museum of Art, California; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; Museum Folkwang, Essen; German Museum for Architecture, Frankfurt.