Michel Comte was born in Zurich, Switzerland, on 19 February 1954.
He studied in France and England and started his career as an art restorer specializing in contemporary artworks such as Andy Warhol and Yves Klein. In 1979, he met Karl Lagerfeld who gave him his first commercial assignment for Chloe and later Chanel. Since his beginnings, he mainly collaborated with Vogue Italia, l'Uomo Vogue, Vanity Fair and Interview over the years and has worked with brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Gianfranco Ferre, BMW, Ferrari, Hennessy, Hermes, Lancôme, Pomellato, Jaguar, Mercedes Benz, Nike and many others. Comte also followed the career of F1 driver Michael Schumacher. He was awarded as Photographer of the year 2000 by PHOTO magazine.
In the 1990s, throughout his years as a fashion photographer, he divided his time travelling into conflict zones to raise funds for humanitarian projects and worked on photo assignments from the International Red Cross in war-ravaged regions including Bosnia, Angola, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Sudan and Somalia. Comte’s book, People and Places with No Name, published by Steidl records much of what he saw during these years. During the Gulf War, he went twice to Iraq and also worked in Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Egypt and Syria. His work with the ICRC contributed to fundraising efforts to build an orthopaedic hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan and helped raise awareness and money for victims of conflict.
In 2008, Comte met Ayako Yoshida and he dedicated more time into art and personal projects. Together they produced their first 3D feature film, The Girl From Nagasaki, a retelling of the classic opera Madame Butterfly, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2014. Comte also directed the film and scripted the story in collaboration with Anne-Marie Mackay.
Comte opened “Neoclassic“ exhibition at the National Gallery in Parma in Fall 2016. Neoclassic is Comte’s take on rise and fall of neoclassicism. This series includes sculptures, installations, photographs, reproductions of neoclassical treasures, and adapted images of masterpieces.
A passionate mountain climber and aviator throughout his life, Comte began investigating climate change and in 1975, before going to university, wrote an essay called 'Water Is the Oil of the Future,' which he was invited to present at The Club of Rome; one of the first organizations to take on the challenge of understanding and facing environmental issues. After his grandfather's returning, Alfred Comte, with images of majestic glaciers, he easily recognized that the gigantic white masses almost entirely covered the mountain ranges. Almost a century later, he has climbed many peaks and realized the rapid melting of our glaciers and global ice sheets. For three decades he has therefore returned to the same places and has taken many images from open helicopters, gliding through the clouds, or simply climbing and portrayed disappearance of the glacial landscapes all over the world.
Two decades ago, Comte decided to wind down most of his activities as a commercial photographer to focus on 'Light', his most recent art project. 'Light' is the study of natural landscapes and explores the impact of environmental changes via sculpture, paintings, installations, photography and 3D video art. Comte's artworks especially focus on rising ocean levels, acid rains, erosions and glacier meltdowns. They have a monumental appearance and benefit from the use of light from a different perspective. The artworks are consisting of glass -including Murano-, ice, stone, granite, pigment, salt, dust, wood and ceramics. Also, Comte produced other artworks that are including the toxic black carbon fallout from the jet fuel. ‘Light’ has been exhibited at the La Triennale di Milano (2017), MAXXI in Rome (2017), Galerie Urs Meile (Beijing 2018 and Lucerne 2020) and Dirimart (Istanbul 2019).
Michel Comte lastly featured his Erosion series as two separate parts of exhibitions: Erosion I and Erosion II. In the first part, Erosion I, was shown at Galerie Urs Meile in Lucerne (2020). Erosion II took place at the atelier of the artist that located in Uetikon am See, Zurich (2021).
Comte's artworks presented at many other art scenes such as Art Basel, Art Basel Hong Kong, Art Basel Miami, Contemporary Istanbul, Beijing Contemporary (2018).
His photographs have been exhibited in many museums such as Vienna Kunst Haus, Venice Penny Guggenheim Museum, Verona Centro Internazionale di Fotografia, Munich Pinakothek der Moderne, Dusseldorf NRW-Forum, Zurich Museum für Gstaltung.