Thomas Demand was born in 1964 in Munich. He attended the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich from 1987 to 1990, the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf from 1990 to 1993, and Goldsmiths College in London from 1993 to 1994. Originally trained as a sculptor, he developed a photographic practice involving the construction of life-size models of architectural interiors out of paper and cardboard. The range of architectural types and subject matter represented by these models—many of which are based on mass-media imagery—has gradually expanded over time. Room (1994) simulates the bunker where the last failed attempt was made on Hitler’s life; Corridor (1995), the hallway leading to serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment; Office (1996), the East Berlin headquarters of the Stasi secret police; Barn (1997), Jackson Pollock’s Long Island studio as seen in a widely reproduced photograph by Hans Namuth. For Poll (2001), Demand reproduced images of the Palm Beach County Emergency Operation Center, where the recount for the 2000 United States presidential election took place. Demand has also experimented with film in works such as Recorder (2002), a 35 mm-film loop in which a paper model of an eight-track reel-to-reel recording device appears to play the Beach Boys album Smile (1966), a recording that was until recently lost; the sound of a piano can be heard on the soundtrack. His recent panoramic photographs Clearing (2003) and Grotto (2006) respond not to specific episodes as did his earlier work, but rather to specific vistas: the first a dramatic simulation of the Giardini in Venice, and the latter the dark underworld of a Mallorca cave. For Landing (2006), Demand returned to his long-standing interest in the refabrication of sites rendered significant due to much-publicized events—in this case, to an incident of destruction in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, which cost the museum three important Qing-dynasty porcelain vases.
Since his first solo exhibition, at Tanit Galerie in Munich in 1992, Demand has shown at numerous international galleries as well as at the Kunsthalle Zürich (1998), Fondation Cartier pour l’art Contemporain in Paris (2000), Sprengel Museum Hannover (2001), SITE Santa Fe (2002), Museum of Modern Art in New York (2005), Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin (2007), and Hamburger Kunsthalle (2008). His work has been included in New Photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1996), Elsewhere at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh (1997), Berlin Biennale (1998), Moving Pictures at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (2002 and 2003), Bienal de São Paulo (2004), Between Reality and Art at the National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto (2005–06), Shanghai Biennale (2006) and The Constructed Image at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in Toronto (2007). Demand lives and works in Berlin.