The German photographer Michael Schmidt has died at the age of 68, just days after being awarded the fifth Prix Pictet.
Schmidt won the 100,000 Swiss franc prize, whose theme this year was ‘Consumption’, for his photographic series Lebensmittel, which examines the workings of the global food industry. The series was years in the making: Schmidt travelled the world to factory farms, slaughterhouses, and supermarkets, photographing the different sites of production and consumption in characteristically stark black and white compositions. These images, interspersed with formal studies of foodstuffs and packaging (apples and egg boxes, sliced and processed meat – some picked out in colour) documents a vast industry through its myriad details.
Stephen Barber, founder of the Prix Pictet, said the photographer died on Saturday, just days after he was announced as the prize-winner at a ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. His death was first reported by German art magazine Monopol. Born in Berlin shortly after the end of the Second World War, Schmidt was well known in Germany for his photographs of the city’s architecture and inhabitants.
His work, along with that of the other artists shortlisted for the Prix Pictet, is on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London until 14 June.