Made in Germany : German Photography from The 19th Century to Today

2017.01.11 – 04.02

 

Introduction

“Made in Germany” presents an overview of German photography that includes numerous iconic masterpieces from the 1850s to the present. Germany is a nation closely associated with the historic development of photography, in particular in the field of technological advances.

But Germany was never merely an industrial powerhouse or a place for engineering precision alone. It has been the home of numerous photographers, who each made a great contribution to the evolution of the photographic medium, and from almost its earliest inception. Following this timeline of the mid-19th century through to the present, MADE IN GERMANY includes works by early masters Leopold Ahrendts and, a particular favourite, Heinrich Kühn, but also greats like Helmut Newton and the Bechers, Bernd and Hilla. There are, of course, so many more, not least the stars of the Bauhaus era.

The 120 works in the exhibition are grouped together as a series of important moments for photography in Germany through the course of these 160 years. These moments give specific focus to shifts in technique, styles and content, and to the photographers whose innovative visions produced those shifts.

Chronologically, the moments begin in the 1850s. Next comes the1920s and 1930s, which covers the Bauhaus and the innovations of the avant-garde. Following WWII, we see how photographers uncovered new areas of subjectivity. This transitioned into a documentary turn in the1970s and 1980s, with contrasts between the visions of photographers in West and East Germany in the years before the reunification took place following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The final section moves forward into the contemporary period.

The works for MADE IN GERMANY were selected for us by Berlin-based curator Petra Helck. We offer sincere gratitude to her and to the gallery Kicken Berlin; to Hua'er at see+ Gallery, Beijing and to Carolin Förster for her contribution to the exhibition text.Thanks also go to our trustee Arthur Wang Minxiang for his assistance with the exhibition; and to Matthew Liu for his generous loan of Candida Höfer's work.


We'd also like to make a special mention for Bottega Veneta, our official corporate sponsor for 2017, who enabled this exhibition to happen. 

 

Photographers

Leopold Ahrendts (1825-1870) | Heinrich Kühn (1866-1944)
They are not only the early photographers but also the pioneers in the field of landscape and architecture. Ahrendts captured urban views of monumental buildings in Berlin, whilst Kühn, artist, theorist, and inventor of techniques and tools, championed art photography, producing fine examples of the artistic genre of Pictorialism.


August Sander (1876-1964)
In the first decade of the 20th century, a new generation of avant-garde masters emerged. The interwar period in the 1920s and 1930s produced prolific documentary and experimental movements known today as New Objectivity and New Vision.


Otto Umbehr (1902-1980) | Erwin Blumenfeld (1897-1969)
New Vision was characterized by the groundbreaking reportage of Umbo (Otto Umbehr, 1902-80) and by portraits and figure studies of Erwin Blumenfeld (1897-1969). Photography also played an essential role in the Bauhaus, founded in 1919 by Walter Gropius, where it was used to document architecture, products, workshop activities, and record everyday life and work.


Ute Mahler (-1949) | Ursula Arnold (1929-2012) | Helga Paris (-1938)
Post-World War II, photographers sought to create new visual languages rooted in experimentation, but also conceptual and documentary perspectives. In both East and West Germany, photography bore testimony to an era that was shifting both economically and politically. In the German Democratic Republic (1949-1989) photography was primarily a utilitarian tool, but a number of artistic perspectives evolved, including portrayals of the human figure by Ute Mahler (1949), Ursula Arnold (1929-2012) and Helga Paris (1938)


Wilhelm Schürmann (-1946) | Heinrich Riebesehl (1938-2010)
Post-World War II, photographers sought to create new visual languages rooted in experimentation, but also conceptual and documentary perspectives. In both East and West Germany, photography bore testimony to an era that was shifting both economically and politically. In West Germany, conceptual photographers Wilhelm Schürmann (*1946) and Heinrich Riebesehl (1938-2010) explored urban streets and agricultural landscapes.


Bernd (
1931-2007) | Hilla Becher (1934-2015)
The Bechers established a conceptual approach to photography exploring industrial forms, which they passed to their students at Düsseldorf Academy of Fine Arts such as Andreas Gursky, Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth and Candida Höfer.Candida Höfer (*1946)shares with them a precision in the framing of scenes, objects and of spaces; vast spaces that are invariably empty of human activity.


Helmut Newton (1920-2004)
A contrast here is with the absolute focus on people produced by Helmut Newton (1920-2004). Making an international name for himself, this key fashion photographerrevolutionized the genre with a new type of image of women, all of them stunning.

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