23
Nov
08

Exhibition: ‘As far as no eye can see: panoramic photographs of Berlin, 1949-1952’ at the Berlinische Galerie Museum of Modern Art, Berlin

Exhibition dates: 2nd November 2008 – 16th February 2009

 

Fritz Tiedemann (German, 1915-2001) 'Pariser Platz, April 21, 1951'

 

Fritz Tiedemann (German, 1915-2001)
Pariser Platz, April 21, 1951
1951
Reconstructed by Arwed Messmer 2008
1.25 x 5.84 metres
© Fritz Tiedemann / Arwed Messmer

 

 

As far as the eye can see shows 13 reconstructed and digitally reassembled panorama photos by Tiedemann from his 1,500-footage work. The city views from the years 1949-1952 were enlarged to almost gigantic dimensions (up to 25.5 m in length) and thus provide a fascinating view of the destruction of the war and the reconstruction of Berlin.

Fritz Tiedemann (German, 1915-2001) was a trained surveying technician and was trained in the military as a photogrammeter (specialist for photographic measuring methods). He documented the city as a photographer at the Office of Preservation. The photographer Arwed Messmer came across Tiedemann’s photographs during research work for his book project “Anonyme Mitte – Berlin” in the Berlinische Galerie and then developed the idea for this exhibition.

 

Fritz Tiedemann (German, 1915-2001) 'Pariser Platz, April 21, 1951' (detail)

 

Fritz Tiedemann (German, 1915-2001)
Pariser Platz, April 21, 1951 (detail)
1951
Reconstructed by Arwed Messmer 2008
1.25 x 5.84 metres
© Fritz Tiedemann / Arwed Messmer

 

 

After WW 2, rubble clearance had made considerable progress and rebuild had begun, a remarkable photographic inventory was done in East Berlin. By order of the magistrate of the capital of the GDR an – up to now – unknown photographer documented central places and areas that were of importance concerning the urban planning in the early 50s. He captured the Pariser Platz and the Schloßplatz area as well as the works on the Walter Ulbricht Stadium or a sand storage area in the outskirts. In order to adequately picture the void and the vastness of the destroyed city as well as the remaining urban structures, the photographer made horizontal turns with the camera and thus produced sequences that – once brought together – turned into panoramic pictures.

The concealed quality of these pictures was lately discovered by Berlin photographer Arwed Messmer. By means of digital mounting of the sequences he created synthetic large-size pictorial worlds that show the destroyed Berlin as an empty stage. Thus inspired, the Photo Archive of the East Berlin magistrate, preserved by the Berlinische Galerie and documented in the catalogue “Ost-Berlin und seine Bauten. Fotografien 1945-1990″/”East Berlin Architecture”, was searched through anew. Thus the exhibition operates at the interface between applied photography and new photographic technology as well as between collective memory and an unfamiliar optic experience.

Press release from the Berlinische Galerie Museum of Modern Art

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'As far as the eye can see' at the Berlinische Galerie, Berlin

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'As far as the eye can see' at the Berlinische Galerie, Berlin

 

Installation views of the exhibition As far as the eye can see at the Berlinische Galerie, Berlin

 

 

Between 1948 and 1953, photographer and technical surveyor Fritz Tiedemann (German, 1915-2001) was commissioned by the urban administration of East Berlin to undertake extensive documentation of architecture and urban planning in the capital of the GDR. Many of his early visual documents are series of images conceived as panoramas, whereby the sweep of the camera gives a comprehensive impression of emptiness and the extent of war damage in the city. Processed as contact copies and stuck onto archive covers, his many photographs are one important, early basic collection of a photo archive that was extended consistently until 1990. It has been kept in the architectural collection of the Berlinische Galerie since 1992.

An in-depth study of the collection was facilitated with support from the Getty Foundation, Los Angeles, and the results were made available to the public in the shape of the publication “Ost-Berlin und seine Bauten” in 2006. In 2008 a selection of Tiedemann’s photographs was shown to the public in the exhibition So weit kein Auge reicht. Berliner Panoramafotografien aus den Jahren 1949-1952. Aufgenommen von Fritz Tiedemann. Rekonstruiert und interpretiert von Arwed Messmer (As far as no eye can see. Berlin panorama photographs from the years 1949-1952. Taken by Fritz Tiedemann. Reconstructed and interpreted by Arwed Messmer). A catalogue of the same name was also published; it has since been produced in a second, revised edition.

Text from the Berlinische Galerie Museum of Modern Art

 

Fritz Tiedemann (German, 1915-2001) 'Pariser Platz (south side) April 21, 1951'

 

Fritz Tiedemann (German, 1915-2001)
Pariser Platz (south side), April 21, 1951
1951
Archive cover with contact copies of the original negatives
Silver gelatine paper on paper, 18.5 x 24.6 cm
Taken over from the collections of the Urban Administration for Urban Development, Housing and Transport Berlin [East] via the Senate Administration for Building and Housing Berlin, 1991
© Berlinische Galerie Museum of Modern Art

 

 

Fritz Tiedemann short biography

14 February 1915 Hamburg – 23 November 2001 Münster, Westfalen

The identity behind the name “Tiedemann” could be clarified during the course of the exhibition. A former colleague of Fritz Tiedemann as well as descendents of the photographer learned about the exhibition due to the nationwide media coverage and contacted the museum.

As a professional surveying technician Fritz Tiedemann received additional specialist qualification as a topographer during his military service. His photographic skills and expertise were of great importance for the documentation of wartime damage and a visual basis for future urban planning. Indeed, his photographs can be considered as new documents showing the vastness and emptiness of the destroyed city.

In February 1948 he began working as a photographer for the Berlin Historic Buildings’ and Memorials’ Conservation Office. In October 1949 due to the political division of Greater Berlin he was to continue his work for the East Berlin government’s city planning office. Besides historical aspects the documentation then also focused on the architectural development of East Berlin as is also displayed by the exhibition’s panoramic photographs.

On February 28, 1953 Fritz Tiedemann was arrested by the East German police forces for his attempts to have West Berlin authorities share in those historically valuable photographs. He was tried and imprisoned and after the events of June 17, 1953 granted amnesty. Together with his family he subsequently fled to West Germany where he was acknowledged as political refugee. In January 1954 he took up work as a topographer with a company called Plan und Karte, later Hansa Luftbild, in Münster, Westphalia, where he remained employed until his retirement in 1978.

Photography had not only been part of Fritz Tiedmann’s professional activities, it was in fact his life-long passion, the results of which are considered by his family as a great heritage.

Text from the Berlinische Galerie Museum of Modern Art

 

Fritz Tiedemann (German, 1915-2001) 'Marx-Engels-Platz, April 20, 1951'

 

Fritz Tiedemann (German, 1915-2001)
Marx-Engels-Platz, April 20, 1951 [previously called Schloss-Platz]
1951
Reconstructed by Arwed Messmer 2008
© Fritz Tiedemann / Arwed Messmer

 

Fritz Tiedemann (German, 1915-2001) 'Am Friedrichshain, March 5, 1952'

 

Fritz Tiedemann (German, 1915-2001)
Am Friedrichshain, March 5, 1952
1952
Reconstructed by Arwed Messmer 2008
© Fritz Tiedemann / Arwed Messmer

 

Fritz Tiedemann (German, 1915-2001) 'Rathausstrasse, April 20, 1951'

 

Fritz Tiedemann (German, 1915-2001)
Rathausstrasse, April 20, 1951 [The Rathausstrasse overlooking the Marienkirche of Alexanderplatz]
1951
Reconstructed by Arwed Messmer 2008
© Fritz Tiedemann / Arwed Messmer

 

Fritz Tiedemann (German, 1915-2001) 'Outdoor scene in Wuhlheide, May 4, 1952'

 

Fritz Tiedemann (German, 1915-2001)
Outdoor scene in Wuhlheide, May 4, 1952
1952
Reconstructed by Arwed Messmer 2008
© Fritz Tiedemann / Arwed Messmer

 

 

Berlinische Galerie Museum of Modern Art
Alte Jakobstraße 124-128
10969 Berlin Germany

Opening hours:
Wednesday-Monday 10 am-6 pm
Closed on Tuesdays

Berlinische Galerie Museum of Modern Art website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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