27
Sep
14

Exhibition: ‘The Museum of Photography. A Revision’ at Museum Ludwig, Cologne

Exhibition dates: 28th June – 5th October 2014

 

The ghost of the photography museum. The ghost of the machine.

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Many thankx to Museum Ludwig for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'The Museum of Photography. A Revision' at Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'The Museum of Photography. A Revision' at Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest

Installation view of the exhibition 'The Museum of Photography. A Revision' at Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest

 

Installation views of the exhibition The Museum of Photography. A Revision at Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest

 

Marcus A. Root. 'Daguerreotype of a Mother and Child' 1840

 

Marcus A. Root
Daguerreotype of a Mother and Child
1840
Museum Ludwig
Photo: © Rhenish image archive

 

Gustave Le Gray. 'Pier and lighthouse at Le Havre' 1856

 

Gustave Le Gray
Pier and lighthouse at Le Havre
1856
Museum Ludwig
Photo: © Rhenish image archive

 

Hermann Wilhelm Vogel. 'Three-color printing process by Bird Ulrich. Uptake by oil paintings and natural butterflies' 1892

 

Hermann Wilhelm Vogel
Three-color printing process by Bird Ulrich. Uptake by oil paintings and natural butterflies
1892
Museum Ludwig
Photo: © Rhenish image archive

 

 

“A ghost has been haunting podiums, periodicals, and arts pages for decades: the ghost of the photography museum. “We need one,” say advocates; “really?” counter opponents. Chemist Erich Stenger (1878-1957), a passionate collector of photographs, viewed them not as art, but as technological evidence. Yet the way he envisaged presenting them was in a museum. At an early date he called for the establishment of a (technology-based) museum of photography, accumulating items for it and drawing up a display plan. Among the first collectors of photography, he amassed holdings of nineteenth-century landscapes, portraits, photographs taken by airmen in World War I, portraits framed as decorative items, prizewinning pictures of animals from the first half of the twentieth century, caricatures about photography, and much else besides. As a scientist, Stenger collected data and represented it in the form of tables and diagrams. That is also how he ordered everything relating to photography that he could lay his hands on. He distinguished some one hundred categories, from architecture photography to trick photography. His museum was to resemble an encyclopedia of photography, and in that sense he was very much a man of the nineteenth century. He showed his collection at most major photography exhibitions held during his lifetime, including Pressa in Cologne in 1928.

Stenger’s collection is now integrated into the Agfa collection, which in turn forms an important part of the photography holdings at the Museum Ludwig. The items amassed by Stenger now therefore constitute a museum within a museum – within an art museum, in fact. How is an art museum to deal with a collection of this kind? Individual items and sections from it have been exhibited since the early years of the twentieth century. At the Museum Ludwig it has been represented in Facts (2006), Silber und Salz (Silver and Salt; 1988), An den süssen Ufern Asiens (On the Sweet Shores of Asia; 1989), and many other shows. Stenger’s ideas about his collection are now being spotlighted and presented under one roof. This seems appropriate at a time when museums and archives are the subject of heated debates and intensive self-examination. As institutions, they shape and regulate cultural memory; and photography in museums, in particular, influences our view of the past and the present. This function of the Stenger collection acquired semi-official status in 2005, when it was named a national cultural treasure. That is reason enough to subject it to a reappraisal, re-examining its contents, the criteria governing its accumulation, and the ways in which an art museum might want to approach it today.

The exhibition comprises approximately 250 photographs and objects.”

Press release from Museum Ludwig website

 

Unknown photographer. 'Portrait Erich Stenger' 1906

 

Unknown photographer
Portrait Erich Stenger
1906
Museum Ludwig
Photo: © Rhenish image archive

 

Henry Traut. 'Portrait, Munich' 1932

 

Henry Traut
Portrait, Munich
1932
Museum Ludwig
Photo: © Rhenish image archive

 

Franz Schensky. 'Möwenpaar' 1930

 

Franz Schensky
Möwenpaar
1930
Museum Ludwig
Photo: © Rhenish image archive

 

Franz Grainer. 'Portrait' 1920

 

Franz Grainer
Portrait
1920
Museum Ludwig
Photo: © Rhenish image archive

 

Unknown artist. 'Template for a photomontage (Royal Bavarian Infantry Regiment)' 2nd half of the 19th century

 

Unknown artist
Template for a photomontage (Royal Bavarian Infantry Regiment)
2nd half of the 19th century
Museum Ludwig
Photo: © Rhenish image archive

 

 

Museum Ludwig 
Hein­rich-Böll-Platz
50667 Köln
Phone +49 221 221 26165

Opening hours:
Tues­day to Sun­day (in­cl. holi­days): 10.00 am – 6.00 pm
Ev­ery first Thurs­day of the month: 10.00 am – 10.00 pm
Closed Mon­days

Museum Ludwig 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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