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HKFP Lens: The late Michael Wolf’s series on ‘Earth Gods’ zooms in on Hong Kong’s tiny doorway shrines

Best known locally for his photography series “Architecture of Density,” Michael Wolf passed away last week on Cheung Chau aged 64. The award-winning German photographer was also behind a series entitled Big City, Small Gods – shared with HKFP, courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery.

Big City, Small Gods, by Michael Wolf

Big City, Small Gods, by Michael Wolf. Courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery.

Born in Munich in 1954, Wolf was raised in the United States, Canada, and Europe. He attended college at the University of California, Berkeley and later received a degree in visual communication from the University of Essen. He moved to Hong Kong in 1994 while working as a photojournalist for Stern magazine, and started working under his own name from 2002 onwards.

Big City, Small Gods, by Michael Wolf

Big City, Small Gods, by Michael Wolf. Courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery.

Blue Lotus Gallery writes that Hong Kong was a lifelong love affair for Michael Wolf. But he was also concerned that “inevitable new urban development is done in a way that doesn’t leave enough space for diversity and individual expression and as a result, the city loses more and more its unique flavour.”

Big City, Small Gods, by Michael Wolf

Big City, Small Gods, by Michael Wolf. Courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery.

His Earth Gods series zooms in on the shrines often found in the doorways of stores and homes throughout the city.

Big City, Small Gods, by Michael Wolf

Big City, Small Gods, by Michael Wolf. Courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery.

Easily missed, and perhaps ignored by many, the small Gods still “outshine with ease all the dollies, hosepipes, jerrycans, brooms and buckets, that accompany them down on the big city’s earth.”

See also: Hong Kong’s mind-boggling density showcased in the late Michael Wolf’s classic photo series

Big City, Small Gods, by Michael Wolf

Big City, Small Gods, by Michael Wolf. Courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery.

See also: Hong Kong’s disappearing corner houses captured by the late Michael Wolf

Sarah Greene, of the Blue Lotus Gallery, told HKFP: “Hong Kong was his favourite city which kept inspiring him, zooming out on the beehive with his iconic work ‘architecture of density’ and zooming into the veins of the city exploring the vernacular beauty of the back alleys.”


Wolf’s works are available via the Blue Lotus Gallery store, and via Book Depository.

HKFP Lens: The late Michael Wolf's series on 'Earth Gods' zooms in on Hong Kong's tiny doorway shrines