Skip to main content
Ages 13+
Under 13

Frank Thiel and the Exquisite Beauty of Abandonment


This German photographer seeks to capture buildings and objects left abandoned by the common eye.

An urban landscape hides stories behind every wall. Somewhere in its immensity, beautiful spaces lay cloaked. The incessant changes that a city undergoes create architectural surprises for anyone willing to look.

Frank Thiel (1966) captures the passing of time by photographing long abandoned buildings and objects in his native Berlin.

His photographs catalog anything that is used, oxidized, and obsolete, inviting his public to pay attention to the vestiges of another time. Steeped in nostalgia, these images touch on the cyclical nature of time and the constant change of everything around us. They are snapshots of the often forgotten transformations that ideologies, industries, and cityscapes live through.

“Berlin suffers from an overdose of history,” Thiel says, explaining why he found the city so inspiring. The Berlin Wall—symbol for a time of great antagonism—shaped the city’s collective conscious and subconscious. But legendary Berlin is no exception; all of Germany has gone through great changes in modern history. Let us remember the beautiful photos of abandoned soviet fabrics by Bernd and Hilla Becher, for example.

The photographer’s methodology consists of meticulously photographing the paint peeling off the walls of an abandoned room ––The chipped paint creates a color contrast to the rest of the photograph, which enriches the image and leads the spectator to contemplation and introspection.

Thiel also photographs the curtains of a building in the abandoned industrial sector of East Berlin. “They become silent witnesses of a whole political system. If these curtains could speak…” The artist reflects in an interview about time capsules.

Related Articles