ROBBY MÜLLER / Like Sunlight Coming Through the Clouds

Case Chiuse #09 by Paola Clerico

Case Chiuse HQ
Via Rosolino Pilo 14, Milano

September 22nd, 2020 - January 25th, 2021

ROBBY MÜLLER / Like Sunlight Coming Through the Clouds

Case Chiuse #09 by Paola Clerico

In collaboration with Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam

Robby Müller’s solo exhibition Like Sunlight Coming Through the Clouds at Case Chiuse HQ is curated by his wife Andrea Müller-Schirmer. The show follows major exhibitions of his film work at the Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam and the Deutsche Kinemathek in Berlin, as well as presentations of his Polaroids in Arles, Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

Robby Müller is internationally acclaimed for his ground-breaking cinematography for independent directors such as Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmusch and Lars von Trier, on films such as Paris, Texas (1984), Down by Law (1986) and Breaking the Waves (1996). On these films, but also on films by William Friedkin, Peter Bogdanovich, Sally Potter and Michael Winterbottom, Robby Müller built his reputation as a fearless experimenter who preferred to shoot spontaneously everything that caught his eye on the moment rather than construct shots in advance. Müller succeeded in uniting narrative, atmosphere and image into a single whole. He became known for his virtuoso handling of light and shade, for which he preferred natural light.

The show at Case Chiuse HQ reveals a lesser-known part of his work and features vintage Polaroids and a wide range of Polaroid photos as edition prints. The larger format of these prints reveals the incredible details that Müller was able to capture in the instant medium. The works show Müller playing with and exploring the properties of light and colour with a preference for photographs taken at twilight – the ‘blue hour’ – when natural and artificial light meet.

Müller never left home without his camera, and after he had become familiar with Polaroid photography on the set of Alice in the Cities (dir. Wim Wenders) in 1973, the Polaroid camera accompanied him on his travels. He built up an extensive archive of Polaroid images which he took during the rare moments of respite from work. When he was not completely immersed in his day job, he took his Polaroid camera and began capturing the everyday objects he saw around him, such as magically lit hotel rooms, American cars and urban sceneries, abstract patterns in cityscapes and the play of light in motives like trees, flowers and self-portraits. He was always looking for the one particular situation of light or observing the characteristics of reflections. 

Seen side by side, these photographic works from the early 1970s to the late 1990’s offer a broader view of Müller as a visual artist, with the Polaroid works complementing and going beyond his cinematographic work. Like Sunlight Coming Through the Clouds highlights Müller’s ability to create iconic images that represent not only his unique view of the world, but also his talent for creating something new and more radiant. This show clearly establishes the link between his Polaroids and the films Müller made. In these captured silent moments, one can sense the same poetic sensitivity that suffused his cinematic imagery and led many to dub him the ‘master of light’.

Alongside the Polaroids, a compilation of images from Claire Pijman’s documentary Living the Light – Robby Müllerwill be shown. These images from Robby Müller’s private archive give us an insight into his playful way of sensing the light in the world around him. Displayed on a cube TV, the images enhance the atmosphere of the Polaroid world.

The completed documentary film with a score by Jim Jarmusch’s band SQÜRL had its world premiere at the Venice Biennale in 2018.

Robby Müller (Curaçao, 1940 – Amsterdam, 2018) Born in 1940 on the Caribbean island of Curaçao, then part of the Netherlands, Müller grew up in Indonesia and the Netherlands. In the early sixties, he studied at the Netherlands Film Academy. Müller made significant contribution to the success of an entire generation of independent film auteurs and won acclaim for his innovative camerawork and virtuoso lighting. His illustrious career was marked by collaborations with directors Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmusch, Lars von Trier and Steve McQueen. Müller died in Amsterdam in 2018.