Frank Thiel was born in Kleinmachnow near Berlin, Germany in 1966. He moved to West Berlin, Germany in 1985 and attended a training college for photography there from 1987-1989.
Thiel is widely renown for photographing the architectural spaces of Berlin, reflecting a turbulent social and political history. Thiel's monumental works are not merely documentation, but picture a city reborn after a tumultuous history. Thiel refers to Berlin as "the youngest city in the world" and further explains that "the city that suffers from an overdose of history…yet it does not suffer from its sediments like other European cities, but from the consequences of its eruptions." The architectural spaces in these photographs are not only reflections of a turbulent social and political history, but of the emergence of new patterns of urban existence. Previous bodies of work have focused on such topics as state surveillance and the privatization of public space.
Thiel's commitment to the constant transformation and development of Berlin for more than a decade has become an integral part of the unfolding history of the city and its most important photographic record. His work describes a type of architecture in transition and the formation of a new political space within urban structures, but his real subject matter is the incomplete: he prefers the process of construction over the end result and persistently pursues the aesthetics of temporality and change. Thiel's photographs seem to refer to a larger narrative context, yet they also explore the relationship of photography to painting and sculpture. Thiel's special ability to inscribe the dialectic relationship between ideology and aesthetics in his photographs also prevents any appearance of sentimentality. In a recent body of large-scale photographs, Thiel focuses on walls and ceilings, mostly photographed in abandoned industrial buildings of East Berlin. The monumental photographs record the ruinous conditions of weathered paint surfaces and destroyed buildings, translating them into abstracted architectural spaces that are alluring and emotionally charged. He describes the void spaces "as the kind of beauty that a normal eye is often too blind to see and is usually abandoned from our perception." In its abstract painterly quality, his work explores the intimate and evolving relationship between painting and photography.
Frank Thiel has exhibited extensively in museums and galleries worldwide; his works are included in the collections of many major international museums including the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela, Spain; Museu National Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada; Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland; and Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden.
Frank Thiel lives and works in Berlin.