Matthew Rolston makes his fine-art debut in Europe with “Talking Heads,” opening Friday, April 22, at Berlin’s esteemed Camera Work Contemporary Gallery

Having garnered considerable critical praise in the United States, Matthew Rolston’s fine-art series “Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits” is set to debut this week at the Camera Work Contemporary Gallery in Berlin’s Mitte gallery district. The show, which opens Friday, marks Rolston’s first-ever European exhibition and adds him to the pantheon of fellow Camera Work artists Richard Avedon, Herb Ritts, Nick Brandt, and Robert Polidori, among other important image makers.



The invitation for “Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits,” opening April 22 at Camera Work Contemporary Gallery in Berlin.


“Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits” comprises 30 monumental color portraits of dummies that Rolston chose from a collection of nearly 700 ventriloquist dolls housed at the Vent Haven Museum in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. Rolston set up a portrait studio at the museum and photographed each of his subjects in an identical manner: square format, low angle, monochromatic backdrop, and a single light source.

“The resulting photographs are grounded in a visual vocabulary articulated by Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, and Andy Warhol,” notes the gallery. “They also invoke the classic tropes of Pygmalion: Energize the inanimate, and in so doing, infuse them with an idiosyncratic and expressive humanity. The photographer argues on behalf of our collective humanity, and he offers the gaze of these portraits as an avenue of connection.”



The exterior of Camera Work Contemporary Gallery in Berlin’s Mitte gallery district.


Founded in 1997 with the mission of exhibiting work by the masters of photography, Camera Work gallery has become one of the most influential and prestigious galleries in the world and a key player at fairs such as Paris Photo, Photo Shanghai, and Photo London. Four years ago, Camera Work expanded its reach with Camera Work Contemporary Gallery, which showcases contemporary photography, painting, and sculpture. The elegantly designed building offers an exceptional viewing experience that begins with a touch of wit: Upon entering, visitors are greeted by a hyper-realistic sculpture of a security guard.


An image of a signature ‘Hyper-Realist' sculptural work, just inside the CWC gallery’s main entrance - it’s kind of a joke on a permanent security guard for the gallery (you’ll see!). The piece is by the artist Marc Sijan and is entitled "Security Guard. Standing" (2009).

“Security Guard. Standing,” by Marc Sijan, 2009, stands just inside the CWC gallery’s main entrance.


The timing of “Talking Heads,” which will be on view at Camera Work Contemporary Gallery through June 18, is ideal, as Gallery Weekend Berlin, the city-wide art-fair weekend, takes place during the show’s second weekend. The event will showcase Berlin’s vibrant art scene, with 54 galleries launching exhibitions featuring a wide variety of work by established and emerging artists. Camera Work Contemporary Gallery usually experiences many more collectors and visitors on these days and is one of the hot spots, due in part to its location in the Berlin gallery district.

“The weekend has become one of the city’s most anticipated art events, attracting collectors, curators, and art lovers from all over the world,” notes Camera Work gallery director Ute Hartjen.


06 Talking Heads Installation-20

“Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits,” installation view.


To learn more about “Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits,” please visit And to learn more about Matthew Rolston, please visit


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