In a diverse array of photographic projects Michael Wolf explores the complex cultural identities of China and Hong Kong, where he has lived since 1995. Wolf delves into subjects such as the formal and improvisational aesthetics of Hong Kong's architectural forms, the often-overlooked human presence at the heart of international industry, and the idiosyncratic ways city-dwellers shape their surroundings in an "organic metropolis." Throughout these interrelated series Wolf draws into question notions of public and private space, anonymity and individuality, history and modern development. Attuned to the cultural and economic undercurrents of his adopted home, Wolf remains humanely attentive to the personal details as well. Kenneth Baker, critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, has written of the "formal intelligence and acuity of observation" evident in Wolf's photographs, and while Wolf is meticulously and consistently observant, his photographs reflect a manner of working that is intuitive and fluid: from series to series Wolf assumes a range of viewpoints, intimate in some cases and removed in others, and alternates between approaches that are rigorously formal and playfully lyrical.
Wolf's photographs have been exhibited in Asia, Europe and the United States, and are included in the permanent collections of prominent institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Brooklyn Museum, NY; The Cleveland Museum of Art, OH; and The Folkwang Museum in Essen, Germany. The Transparent City was shown at The Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago in 2008 and at Aperture Gallery, New York from 2009 - 2010, and Wolf's large-scale installation, "The Real Toy Story", was on view at the 2008 Shanghai Biennale. Wolf was the first prize recipient of the 2010 World Press Photo Contest, Daily Life category. Wolf's monographs include The Transparent City (Aperture and MoCP, 2008), Hong Kong: Front Door/Back Door, (Thames & Hudson, 2005), Sitting in China (Steidl, 2002), and Hong Kong Inside Outside (Peperoni Books, 2009).