Posts Tagged ‘Switzerland

28
Aug
16

Exhibition: ‘Roberto Donetta Photographer and Seed Salesman from Bleniotal’ at Fotostiftung Schweiz, Winterthur, Zurich

Exhibition dates: 28th May – 4th September 2016

 

I have found a hidden gem in Roberto Donetta. He has become one of my favourite photographers, this seed salesman from Bleniotal, who died in obscurity and poverty in 1932.

His photographs are like no other that I have seen. There is a directness to his photographs that is deceptively disarming, and humour as well. His theatre is the the theatre of life: the archaic life of his compatriots in the Blenio Valley. If you look at his work on the Roberto Donetta Archive website the landscapes and ambiguous object photographs are interesting, but it is in the genre of portrait photography that he really excels. This was his passion, photographing people.

Somehow, it seems as if the person being photographed has forgotten that the camera was there, as though it has disappeared from view. As the press release observes, “the people did not dissimulate [to disguise or conceal under a false appearance], indeed it’s almost as if they forgot that someone with a camera was watching, so self-engrossed do they look, serious, at one with themselves.” At one with themselves but also at one with being photographed, which is very unusual. There is little affectation here.

The details of the photographs are fascinating. The placement of the figures in Female Workers in Front of the Chocolate Factory Cima Norma for example, where the left two sitting figures have their legs crossed in the opposite direction while both rest their face in their hands, a central figure, and then two figures interlocked as in an infinity symbol looking at each other. The ‘line’ of the photograph changes from one height to another. We observe that Donetta stages his photographs with infinite care, even when there is a blank wall behind the sitter. In Family Portrait, Bleniotal there is a gorgeous touch, as the mother holds the arm of the boy on the left hand side and gently rests two fingers on his other hand. Donetta’s photographs are full of these familial and human observations.

In Group of musicians in front of a building all the men have cigarettes hanging from their mouths, even as they stare directly, unflinchingly into the camera lens. In Humoristic scene, Bleniotal the man holding the tongs can hardly suppress laughing as the theatrical photograph is being taken. Kittens or toys are held in hands while protective arms wrap around shoulders. Here are the precursors to the work of Diane Arbus, in their honesty and straight forwardness: in its modernity Children with Toys, Bleniotal even reminds me a little of Arbus’ Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey, 1967. And then there is the use of temporary backdrops, to imitate the upmarket studios of larger towns: “Donetta did imitate the decorative aesthetic of the late 19th century professional studios: he transformed interior or outdoor spaces into improvised studios by, for example, hanging up fabrics or carpets as backdrops and placing objects like chairs or tables with vases of flowers in the foreground. His portraits are carefully composed and arranged, look uncontrived, calm and archaic.”

Despite their deceptively simple nature, there is a mysterious quality to Donetta’s photographs which is enhanced through the use of these portable backdrops. The fabric backdrop and sheet to the left in A wedding couple staged in front of a cloth obscures a rock wall; the idyllic scene behind the boy in Portrait of a Boy, Bleniotal hides an earthy, rudimentary stone wall (and note the figure at the top of the image, holding the backdrop up); in Family Portrait, Bleniotal the hastily hung sheet has been decorated with leaves and branches; and in Untitled [Portrait of a women] a plain concrete wall acts as the backdrop even as a) the women looks out of the image not towards the camera; b) the eye can escape down the left hand side of the image and c) there is a ghost-like figure at the very right hand side of the image standing in what I presume is a doorway. The frontality of his photographs is also very powerful: in Untitled [Portrait of a man] the man looks like he is wearing his Sunday best jacket replete with bow tie. His legs are spread on the chair, the jacket looks to big for him, is stiff and unforgiving, his workers hands rest in his lap and he stares quizzically out of the image: calm, accepting, himself. In Portrait of Cesarina Andreazzi Lazzari, Bleniotal we (again) notice the textures in the image – the stipple, the concrete, the rocks – and then Cesarina’s stubby, dark hands clutching a bunch of flowers and a book, reminiscent of the dirt under the finger nails and dark features of the peasant boys that appear in the work of Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden.

Above all these are honest, direct and engaging photographs. You can think of Lewis Hine, Jacob Riis, Eugène Atget, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and all the FSA photographers, Diane Arbus and others, and yet they don’t come close to the modern/archaic aesthetic of this man. These photographs are a pilgrimage into a past that has long disappeared. But these faces, these people and their lives, still resonate long after they have passed. I was so moved by these photographs I was in tears the other night when I was constructing this posting, studying the intimate details of these images. That means a lot to me.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for Art Blart

PS. I usually don’t publish photographs without title and date but in this instance, to gather together as many Donetta images as possible, I have published them when I have found good quality images on the internet. I believe that in this instance it is very worth while.

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

 

 

Roberto Donetta

 

Roberto Donetta
Untitled
Nd
© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Corzoneso

 

Roberto Donetta

 

Roberto Donetta
Untitled
Nd
© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Corzoneso

 

Roberto Donetta

 

Roberto Donetta
Untitled
Nd
© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Cortonese

 

Roberto Donetta. 'Female Workers in Front of the Chocolate Factory Cima Norma, Dangio-Torre' Nd

 

Roberto Donetta
Female Workers in Front of the Chocolate Factory Cima Norma, Dangio-Torre
Nd
© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Corzoneso

 

Roberto Donetta. 'Family Portrait, Bleniotal' Nd

 

Roberto Donetta
Family Portrait, Bleniotal
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© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Corzoneso

 

Roberto Donetta. 'In Sonntagsgewand: men in the Torre village come together for bowling' Nd

 

Roberto Donetta
In Sonntagsgewand: men in the Torre village come together for bowling
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© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Corzoneso

 

Roberto Donetta. 'Untitled [Basket maker], Bleniotal' Nd

 

Roberto Donetta
Untitled [Basket maker], Bleniotal
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© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Cortonese

 

Roberto Donetta. 'Family Portrait, Bleniotal' Nd

 

Roberto Donetta
Family Portrait, Bleniotal
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© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Cortonese

 

Roberto Donetta. 'Untitled [Group Portrait], Bleniotal' Nd

 

Roberto Donetta
Untitled [Group Portrait], Bleniotal
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© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Cortonese

 

Roberto Donetta. 'Group of musicians in front of a building, Bleniotal' 1900-1932

 

Roberto Donetta
Group of musicians in front of a building, Bleniotal
1900-1932
© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Cortonese

 

Roberto Donetta. 'Untitled [Group of men], Bleniotal' Nd

 

Roberto Donetta
Untitled [Group of men], Bleniotal
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© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Cortonese

 

Roberto Donetta. 'Three girls in the break from work in the fields under a tree' 1900-1932

 

Roberto Donetta
Three girls in the break from work in the fields under a tree
1900-1932
© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Cortonese

 

Roberto Donetta

 

Roberto Donetta
Untitled
Nd
© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Cortonese

 

Roberto Donetta

 

Roberto Donetta
Untitled
Nd
© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Cortonese

 

Roberto Donetta. 'Humoristic scene, Bleniotal' Nd

 

Roberto Donetta
Humoristic scene, Bleniotal
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© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Cortonese

 

Roberto Donetta. 'Humoristic scene, Bleniotal' (detail) Nd

 

Roberto Donetta
Humoristic scene, Bleniotal (detail)
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© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Cortonese

 

Roberto Donetta. 'Four Children in Leafs, Bleniotal' Nd

 

Roberto Donetta
Four Children in Leafs, Bleniotal
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© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Corzoneso

 

Roberto Donetta. 'Four Children in Leafs, Bleniotal' (detail) Nd

 

Roberto Donetta
Four Children in Leafs, Bleniotal (detail)
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© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Corzoneso

 

 

Roberto Donetta (1865-1932) from Ticino is one of Swiss photography’s great outsiders. He managed to survive as a travelling photographer and seed salesman, and upon his death left almost 5,000 glass plates which were preserved merely by chance. These capture the archaic life of his compatriots in the Blenio Valley, which at the time was totally isolated, and the gradual advent of modern times in a precise and sensitive way. Over a period of 30 years and in an era of great change, Donetta became a unique chronicler. At the same time, he saw himself as an artist who – self-taught – experimented freely and knew how to master his medium. His pictures are penetrating and humorous, cheerful and deadly serious – be they of children, families, wedding couples, professional people, the harsh everyday-life of women and men, or of the photographer himself. The Blenio Valley as a microcosm: with Donetta the mountain valley becomes the stage for a great Theater of the World. The exhibition will display about 120 works from the Donetta Archive, many of them on show to the public for the first time ever.

Roberto Donetta was born in Biasca on 6 June 1865. It is not known where he spent his youth. Towards the late 1870s his family most probably moved to Castro in the Blenio Valley, as his father had got a job there as a military functionary. An official register entry on the occasion of his marriage to Teodolinda Tinetti indicates that Roberto Donetta certainly lived in the valley as of 1886. He is registered there as “contadino”, a farmer, which he most likely never was. In 1892 he opened a small grocery shop in Corzoneso, but he had it for only six months. In 1894 he went to London to work as a waiter, returning just 15 months later, sick and exhausted. He then became a hawker and travelled into the most remote corners of the whole valley selling vegetable and flower seeds. As of 1900 he lived in the “Casa Rotonda” in Casserio, part of the Corzoneso municipality. He and Teodolinda meantime had seven children, one of whom died at the age of one. It was around that time that Donetta began to be involved with photography. Apparently Dionigi Sorgesa, a sculptor from Corzoneso, introduced him to the profession and also rented him a camera. Now Donetta was not only a seed merchant but also the valley’s photographer.

A Constant traveller

After turbulent quarrels about the use of their sparse income, he and his family separated in 1912: his wife and children left him in the direction of Bellinzona in search of more lucrative work. Only the youngest son, Saul, remained with his father. On 6 June 1913, his 48th birthday, some of Donetta’s belongings were seized and, for a couple of months, he had no camera, which was a great worry to him: “Not to be able to work for a period of nine months – that severed my connection with my art and made me totally destitute.” Donetta spent the years after the First World War in great solitude, constantly on the road throughout the valley. From 1927 onwards, some of his photographs were published in one of Switzerland’s first illustrated journals, L’Illustré, issued by Ringier.

On the morning of 6 September 1932, Roberto Donetta was found dead in his home. All his photographic equipment was confiscated and auctioned so as to pay off his debts to the municipality. The glass plates, however, were all left untouched. In the mid-1980s Mariarosa Bozzini rediscovered them in Corzoneso.

Between tradition and modernity

Donetta’s personality was full of contradictions. On the one hand, he expressed considerable interest in all the phenomena associated with the advent of modern achievements, such as photography. On the other hand, he was decidedly conservative when it came to the cohesion of the family or his close links with nature. The latter prevented him from leaving the valley to look for more secure work in town. He lamented the constant changes associated with road building and new railway lines, which he did not see as a blessing for the valley. In his capacity as a photographer he succumbed to the fascination of the modern, yet at the same time he expressed a deep respect for long-standing traditions and rituals.

Roberto Donetta’s passion was undoubtedly for portrait photography. The self-taught photographer not only exhibited an astonishing technical mastery in portraying people, but was also able to give free rein to his creativity – despite the fact that this particular field of photography was strongly influenced by the conventions and expectations of his clients. His numerous portraits of children are remarkable. With children he was well able to live out his delight in composing, his talent in staging small scenes. He took the young people seriously, and they in turn were his accomplices, becoming involved in his idiosyncratic ideas.

The chronicler and his style

Throughout his life Donetta accompanied life in the valley, taking commissioned photographs of the inhabitants and the representatives of the different professions, as well as of various events: a visit by a bishop, the arrival of a carousel, a flood, a fire, the construction of a railway line or a bell tower. He was also present at life’s rituals, the transitions from one age group to another, from one social group to the next, or else the prominent fixed points in the year’s cycle, be they secular or ecclesiastical: festivals, weddings, funerals, processions, outdoor church services, these were inconceivable without “il fotografo”. Donetta made photography an important part of those rituals, and over the course of time the photographer was as much a part of the valley as the parson was of the church. This is surely the source of the quality of his photographs: the people did not dissimulate, indeed it’s almost as if they forgot that someone with a camera was watching, so self-engrossed do they look, serious, at one with themselves.

The improvised studio

As Donetta did not have a studio of his own, he travelled the whole valley to take his portraits and produced only small modest prints in postcard format (ie. 7 x 11 cm), which he occasionally stamped with his initials. Often the only ornamentation was an oval vignetting or rounded edges. He regularly delivered the commissioned photographs late because, in order to save chemicals, he only developed his films infrequently. After his rounds as a seed merchant, he then struggled with his business correspondence late into the evening. His works differ greatly from the elegant, classic, gold-edged cards that people could have done those days in the city studios without long waiting periods.

Yet in his own way Donetta did imitate the decorative aesthetic of the late 19th century professional studios: he transformed interior or outdoor spaces into improvised studios by, for example, hanging up fabrics or carpets as backdrops and placing objects like chairs or tables with vases of flowers in the foreground. His portraits are carefully composed and arranged, look uncontrived, calm and archaic. Because of the long exposure times, he was concerned to eliminate chance and spontaneity as far as possible.

In addition to this, he also experimented, or simply took photographs for himself: still life, stormy scenes, cloud formations, strangely shaped cliff or tree outlines. These photographs impress us by their modernity and originality and testify to an inquisitive man with an interest in aesthetic issues.

Press release from Fotostiftung Schweiz

 

Roberto Donetta. 'For the photographer, he briefly interrupts his work: A chef in Bleniotal' Nd

 

Roberto Donetta
For the photographer, he briefly interrupts his work: A chef in Bleniotal
Nd
© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Corzoneso

 

Roberto Donetta

 

Roberto Donetta. 'Untitled [Boy and girl]' Nd

 

Roberto Donetta
Untitled [Boy and girl]
Nd
© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Cortonese

 

Roberto Donetta

 

Roberto Donetta. 'Children with Toys, Bleniotal' Nd

 

Roberto Donetta
Children with Toys, Bleniotal
Nd
© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Corzoneso

 

Roberto Donetta. 'Roberto and Linda Donetta with Their Children Brigida and Saulle' 1905-1910

 

Roberto Donetta
Roberto and Linda Donetta with Their Children Brigida and Saulle
1905-1910
© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Corzoneso

 

Roberto Donetta. 'Roberto and Linda Donetta with Their Children Brigida and Saulle' (detail) 1905-1910

 

Roberto Donetta
Roberto and Linda Donetta with Their Children Brigida and Saulle (detail)
1905-1910
© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Corzoneso

 

Roberto Donetta

 

Roberto Donetta. 'A wedding couple staged in front of a cloth' Nd

 

Roberto Donetta
A wedding couple staged in front of a cloth
Nd
© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Corzoneso

 

Roberto Donetta. 'Portrait of a Boy, Bleniotal' Nd

 

Roberto Donetta
Portrait of a Boy, Bleniotal
Nd
© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Corzoneso

 

Roberto Donetta. 'Killing of a pig, Bleniotal' 1900-1932

 

Roberto Donetta
Killing of a pig, Bleniotal
1900-1932
© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Corzoneso

 

Roberto Donetta. 'Family Portrait, Bleniotal' Nd

 

Roberto Donetta
Family Portrait, Bleniotal
© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Corzoneso

 

Roberto Donetta. 'Untitled [Portrait of a women]' Nd

 

Roberto Donetta
Untitled [Portrait of a women]
Nd
© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Cortonese

 

Roberto Donetta. 'Untitled [Portrait of a man]' Nd

 

Roberto Donetta
Untitled [Portrait of a man]
Nd
© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Cortonese

 

Roberto Donetta. 'Portrait of Cesarina Andreazzi Lazzari, Bleniotal' Nd

 

Roberto Donetta
Portrait of Cesarina Andreazzi Lazzari, Bleniotal
Nd
© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Corzoneso

 

Roberto Donetta. 'Portrait of Cesarina Andreazzi Lazzari, Bleniotal' (detail) Nd

 

Roberto Donetta
Portrait of Cesarina Andreazzi Lazzari, Bleniotal (detail)
Nd
© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Corzoneso

 

Roberto Donetta. 'Self-portrait of Roberto Donetta with hat and a photo album in hand, in front of a wall, Bleniotal' 1900-1932

 

Roberto Donetta
Self-portrait of Roberto Donetta with hat and a photo album in hand, in front of a wall, Bleniotal
1900-1932
© Fondazione Archivio Fotografico Roberto Donetta, Corzoneso

 

 

Fotostiftung Schweiz
Grüzenstrasse 45
CH-8400 Winterthur (Zürich)
Tel: +41 52 234 10 30

Opening hours:
Daily 11 am to 6 pm
Wednesday 11 am to 8 pm
Closed on Mondays

Fotostiftung Schweiz website

Roberto Donetta Archive website

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07
Feb
14

New photographic prize: The Prix Elysée with the support of Parmigiani Fleurier

Applications open: 3rd February 2014
Applications close: 25th April 2014

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The Prix Elysée with the support of Parmigiani Fleurier

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About the Prix Elysée

At the Musée de l’Elysée, we think that supporting photographers in the evolution of their career is as important as preserving their art for future generations. It is in a shared commitment to foster creativity and support the production of new work that the Musée de l’Elysée enters into a partnership with Parmigiani Fleurier to launch the Prix Elysée.

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Who can apply

The prize is open to promising photographers or artists using photography, of all nationalities, who have already enjoyed their first exhibitions and publications. There is no imposed theme or preference for any particular photographic genre or technique. Applications are open from February 3 to April 25, 2014.

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What can you win?

The winner and nominees of the Prix Elysée will all benefit from important exposure and the Museum’s expert guidance. The winner is invited to produce an original and new project as well as its related book. Both the project and book will be presented at one of the Musée de l’Elysée’s most important events, the Nuit des images.

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How to apply

Photographers must be recommended by a reputed professional in the fields of photography, cinema, fashion, journalism, publishing or contemporary art. The Musée de l’Elysée will select eight nominees based upon their entry portfolios. Each will receive a contribution of CHF 5’000 towards the initial presentation of their project in a dedicated edition of the Prix Elysée magazine. This magazine will accompany the nominees’ complete portfolios in the final consideration before the jury of experts. The winner will receive CHF 80’000 to be divided between the completion of the proposed project and the publication of the accompanying book within one year. A curator from the Musée de l’Elysée will advise the winner throughout this process.

The call for applications will take place biennially. The first edition of the Prix Elysée is launched in February 2014 and concludes in June 2016.

Applicants may download the official rules for le Prix Elysée at www.prixelysee.ch.

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musée-de-lelysée-yves-andré-web

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Yves André
Musée de l’Elysée
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© Yves André

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Musée de l'Elysée logo

Musée de l’Elysée
Avenue de l’Elysée 18
CH-1014 Lausanne
T: +41 21 316 99 27

Musée de l’Elysée website

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29
Aug
13

Exhibition: ‘Christian Lutz, Trilogy’ at The Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne

Exhibition dates: 5th June – 1st September 2013

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Power: it will corrupt you, but if you don’t want it, it will be used against you.

PS. Some, if not all, of these people seem like marionettes!

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Many thankx to The Musée de l’Elysée for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Christian Lutz. From the series 'Protokoll' 2007

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Christian Lutz
From the series Protokoll
2007
© Christian Lutz

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Christian Lutz. From the series 'Protokoll' 2007

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Christian Lutz
From the series Protokoll
2007
© Christian Lutz

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Christian Lutz. From the series 'Protokoll' 2007

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Christian Lutz
From the series Protokoll
2007
© Christian Lutz

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“New York, 2003: spectacular security frenzy around the President of the Swiss Confederation Pascal Couchepin – a striking image to the eye of the photographer who was present at the scene. Christian Lutz thus invited himself in the suitcases of the ministerial delegation and documented its various official activities during three years. The first volume of what will become a trilogy on the issue of power is published in 2007: Protokoll. Tropical Gift, dealing with the oil and gas trading in Nigeria, is released in 2010. After portraying the rigorously codified and staged political sphere, the photographer’s cutting eye unveils the malodorous traps of a deadly economic power, with troubling visual poetry. In his viewfinder, reality unnoticeably shifts into a heady thriller. The first two parts of his trilogy have been exhibited worldwide, establishing Christian Lutz as an eminent photographer.

The fate of his yet unreleased third series, In Jesus’ Name, is quite different. Christian Lutz spent a year within a Zurich-based evangelical community. Celebrations and rock concerts, summer camps and blood donation rallies, he photographed all the events he was invited to attend. However, a Zurich Court of Justice banned the book immediately upon its release in November 2012 as 21 people appearing in the volume filed complaints to protect their image; complaints that were carefully orchestrated by the Church’s managers. With these provisional measures, the Court nonetheless ruled against the freedoms of expression and information.

The exhibition Trilogy is a three-fold investigation. Tropical Gift will be shown as a projection accompanied by the original score by Franz Treichler of the Young Gods. As for the latest series, In Jesus’ Name, it carries the marks of a new power, with which it is now inseparable: the judiciary. Troubling and destabilizing, this fourth power questions democracy and artistic freedom. But as it pushes art into a corner, it seems to compel it to reconnect itself with its political dimension, to test established systems, by triggering debate.

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Censorship of the book In Jesus’ Name

The photography book In Jesus’ Name, Christian Lutz’s third part of the series on the issue of power, was launched during Paris Photo on 17 November 2012, before disappearing from the bookstore shelves a couple of days later. The legal proceedings that followed this project raise issues about the artistic freedom as well as the freedom of expression.

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The photographical project In Jesus’ Name

The Zurich-based evangelical community ICF (International Christian Fellowship) is one of the most important free churches in Switzerland. Its success and rapid expansion are a matter of public interest. Created according to the American model of mega-churches, it was initiated in Zurich at the end of the 90s, and has now spread throughout Roman Switzerland thanks to a solid establishment in Lausanne and Geneva. It manages a considerable budget and is characterized by the use of sophisticated and performing marketing and communication methods.

Christian Lutz met the pastor and founder of the Evangelical movement ICF, Leo Bigger, in May 2011. He then introduced him to the other church managers to whom the photographer also presented his project, his former books, his approach and the stakes involved in his Trilogy. He was subsequently granted express consent from the managers who welcomed him in the community.

The photographer nonetheless systematically kept on requesting specific authorizations to the organizers for each ICF’s activity which he wished to photograph. He joined several trips and summer camps organized by the church, and took part in all sorts of events: celebrations, baptisms, ladies lounge, blood donation, theater show, workshop on the addiction to pornography, etc. He met members of the church, exchanged constantly with them, and freely discussed his reportage.

As for each of his series, Christian Lutz entirely immerged himself, photographing faces and individuals up close while fully respecting a rigorous deontology. He was given an ICF photo-reporter badge, and affiliates or organizers of activities regularly ordered images from him. He photographed openly, each one being aware of the project and accepting to be part of it.”

Press release from he Musée de l’Elysée website

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Christian Lutz. From the series 'Tropical Gift' 2010

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Christian Lutz
From the series Tropical Gift
2010
© Christian Lutz

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Christian Lutz. From the series 'Tropical Gift' 2010

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Christian Lutz
From the series Tropical Gift
2010
© Christian Lutz

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Christian Lutz. From the series 'Tropical Gift' 2010

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Christian Lutz
From the series Tropical Gift
2010
© Christian Lutz

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Interview of Christian Lutz by Sam Stourdzé, Director of the Musée de l’Elysée

SYS: Protokoll, the first series in the project, started in 2003 when you started photographing the apparatus of federal politics. Ten years later, how would you assess your itinerary?

CL: Actually, I am the kind of person who prefers to look forward rather than backward. And I’ve come to realize that my work on the issue of power is not quite yet finished. It was initiated in 2003 by coincidence, without any real initial intention; I didn’t tell myself “well, how about working on the notion of power”! It is only with time, as my work asserted itself, that I realized why I was doing it and why I wanted to carry on. Power operates everywhere, in the private sphere, in human relations, between nations, among peoples; it is at the heart of countless processes in society. This is an issue that obsesses me and which is in fact an excuse to talk about our world and the interactions between individuals and systems. I thought I would come to terms with it through this trilogy, but I still have some way to go, as the issue of power opens up new fields of exploration.

SYS: All three components of the Trilogy – political, economic, and religious powers, are exhibited for the first time at the Musée de l’Elysée. What tensions or reflections do you intend to create by juxtaposing the series?

CL: My assumption is that power is always staged, as if power needed some form of theatricality to exist: protocol, representational codes, uniforms and role play, decorum, the forms of power that I have observed in the three series presented today all express themselves through external signs. But they are so obvious that they allow for breaches and give a glimpse of details, urging you to take a closer look, to reach beyond appearances. In all three series, there is this permanent tension between what is being observed and the grey areas, the hidden, the unspoken.

SYS: Several images in the series In Jesus’ Name have been censored. How do you intend to show the void of censorship?

CL: From my point of view, censorship did not create a void, it created a surplus. In other words, I consistently refuse to explain my images or to caption them, in order to avoid imposing a unique interpretation and a manipulation of the imagination. Captions freeze the poetical and suggestive space carried within a photograph; which does not mean that photographs can be made to say anything and everything, especially when we’re talking about a series or a book, as in this case. But an image must breathe, and leave some space to the beholder.

Yet, in order to achieve the ban on the book, the lawyer of the plaintiffs wrote out his own interpretation of my images. In doing so, he kills them in a way. So I had two options: either to let go and admit the defeat, or give a new impetus to the series In Jesus’ Name by foiling the situation, exploiting the new power that is being imposed on me, that is, the power of the judiciary.

SYS: You discovered the judiciary power though your appearance in court. Could this constitute a fourth component to your project?

CL: Yes, but I would not say that it would be a fourth component. It would rather be an outlet project, stemming from a situation I didn’t chose. This sequel will link together the three previous series and will probably shed a different light on them. It is likely to be a narrative rather than a photographic project. To tell the truth, I still don’t really precisely know; the legal proceedings are pending and I still have some difficulties figuring out what I could do with this. But what is certain is that as an artist, I cannot let things happen without finding an artistic outcome to this restriction on the freedom of speech.

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Christian Lutz. From the series 'In Jesus’ Name' 2010

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Christian Lutz
From the series In Jesus’ Name
2010
© Christian Lutz

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Christian Lutz. From the series 'In Jesus’ Name' 2010

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Christian Lutz
From the series In Jesus’ Name
2010
© Christian Lutz

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Christian Lutz. From the series 'In Jesus’ Name' 2010

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Christian Lutz
From the series In Jesus’ Name
2010
© Christian Lutz

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Christian Lutz. From the series 'In Jesus’ Name' 2010

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Christian Lutz
From the series In Jesus’ Name
2010
© Christian Lutz

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Christian Lutz. From the series 'In Jesus’ Name' 2010

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Christian Lutz
From the series In Jesus’ Name
2010
© Christian Lutz

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Portrait of Christian Lutz © Frédéric Choffat

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Portrait of Christian Lutz
© Frédéric Choffat

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The Musée de l’Elysée
18, avenue de l’Elysée
CH - 1014 Lausanne
T: + 41 21 316 99 11

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday, 11am – 6pm
Closed Monday, except for bank holidays

The Musée de l’Elysée website

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08
May
13

Exhibition: ‘Gilles Caron, The Conflict Within’ at The Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne

Exhibition dates: 30th January – 12th May 2013

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Dead at 30

Died so young

Probably at the barrel of a snub nosed gun.

Guilt, narcissism, parody or irony

Doesn’t matter now

He’s dead…

Photos live on

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Many thankx to the Musée de l’Elysée Lausanne for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Gilles Caron. 'Battle of Dak To, Vietnam, November 1967' 1967

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Gilles Caron
Battle of Dak To, Vietnam, November 1967
1967
© Fondation Gilles Caron

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Gilles Caron. 'Transport of a victim of the famine of the Civil War in Biafra, July 1968' 1968

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Gilles Caron
Transport of a victim of the famine of the Civil War in Biafra, July 1968
1968
© Fondation Gilles Caron

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Gilles Caron. 'Protest rue Saint-Jacques, Paris, 6 May 1968' 1968

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Gilles Caron
Protest rue Saint-Jacques, Paris, 6 May 1968
1968
© Fondation Gilles Caron

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Gilles Caron. 'Demonstration at the first anniversary of the Soviet repression of "Spring in Prague", Czechoslovakia, 21 August, 1969' 1969

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Gilles Caron
Demonstration at the first anniversary of the Soviet repression of “Spring in Prague”, Czechoslovakia, 21 August, 1969
1969
© Fondation Gilles Caron

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Gilles Caron. 'American Patrol during the Vietnam War 1967' 1967

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Gilles Caron
American Patrol during the Vietnam War 1967
1967
© Fondation Gilles Caron

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Gilles Caron. 'Israeli Soldiers at the Wailing Wall at the end of the Six Day War in 1967' 1967

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Gilles Caron
Israeli Soldiers at the Wailing Wall at the end of the Six Day War in 1967
1967
© Fondation Gilles Caron

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Gilles Caron. 'General Moshe Dayan June 1967' 1967

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Gilles Caron
General Moshe Dayan June 1967
1967
© Fondation Gilles Caron

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Visual memory of an epoch, Gilles Caron (1939-1970) has chronicled the greatest contemporary conflicts through his images (Six-Day War, Vietnam War, Biafra and Northern Ireland conflicts, May 68, Prague Spring…), a commitment that eventually cost him his life while on assignment in Cambodia. Called up as a parachutist to serve in the Algerian War, Caron became a witness to the brutality inflicted on civilians. Through photojournalism, he sought to cross to the other side in order to contribute to a better understanding of how populations caught up in the spiral of war were living.

His initial heroic vision of war photography soon turned into a reflection on the purpose of his job: can the role of witness, mere spectator, be satisfying? He is one of the first photographers to suffer symptoms from this inner moral conflict, and one of the first to practice a form of introspective disenchantment that led the reporter to gradually turn his camera on him, to become the object of the photographic narrative.

In the early stages of his career, during the Six-Day War and in Vietnam, he chose to focus on inactive figures, soldiers or prisoners absorbed in their thoughts, writing or meditating. During the Biafra War, Caron seemed particularly compassionate for the condition of children and other victims. In May 68 and in Northern Ireland, he was mainly interested in emblematic actors – demonstrators throwing stones or Molotov cocktails – as incarnations of urban guerilla. His inventiveness was never more visible than in his reports on street fighting where, through his lens, demonstrations seemed transformed into choreographies.

A war reporter, regularly exposed to extreme conditions, Caron was however not indifferent to the spectacle of the sixties, the Nouvelle Vague and the young musical scene. He would on occasion photograph on the film sets of Godard or Truffaut and even worked as a fashion photographer. These ventures into cinema and fashion might seem quite remote from the rest of his work but they clearly influenced his formal language, as demonstrated in his reports on the protests in the Latin Quarter or Ulster. The exhibition ends with an anti-heroic portrait of the photojournalist. Essential for the history of photojournalism, this conclusion proves that Caron’s conscience, along that of other photojournalists, became quite an unhappy one at the end of the 60s. Guilt, narcissism, parody or irony… In the end, it is difficult to figure out what image of themselves reporters are making.

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Gilles Caron. 'Battle of Dak To, Vietnam, November - December 1967' 1967

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Gilles Caron
Battle of Dak To, Vietnam, November – December 1967
1967
© Fondation Gilles Caron

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Gilles Caron. 'Daniel Cohn-Bendit facing a CRS in front of the Sorbonne, Paris, 6 May 1968' 1968

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Gilles Caron
Daniel Cohn-Bendit facing a CRS in front of the Sorbonne, Paris, 6 May 1968
1968
© Fondation Gilles Caron

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Gilles Caron. 'Protest rue Saint-Jacques, Paris, 6 May 1968' 1968

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Gilles Caron
Protest rue Saint-Jacques, Paris, 6 May 1968
1968
© Fondation Gilles Caron

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The exhibition presented at the Musée de l’Elysée is Caron’s first major retrospective. Comprising 150 prints and archival documents from the Fondation Gilles Caron, the collection of the Musée de l’Elysée and private collections, the exhibition is an opportunity to rediscover in six parts one of the major photojournalists of the 20th century through an original approach.

1. Heroism

Here and Now: Named the “French Capa” by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Caron’s images highlighting the different scenes of military operations are evidence to his audacity and talents as a reporter.

2. Making History?

The contemplative soldier: This section illustrates a recurring theme in Caron’s work of individuals who are absorbed, and/or made fragile and vulnerable by their surrounding events: miliary prisoners, civilian victims, soldiers shown reading or in reflection, become iconographic images of unedited, and spontaneous moments of stillness.

3. Sympathy

Compassionate Icons: In these photographs, beginning with the war in Biafra and extending across Caron’s travels one sees the deep sensibility of the photographer unfold in his images as Caron must face the very real pain of others. The images of children, starving and void of childhood innocence whom have been sacrificed in conflict mark the beginning of concerned photographic iconography.

4. Demonstrations and guerrilla

The iconography of revolt: In the images of revolt, be that workers, farmers, or students, Caron gives particular iconic importance to the figure of the “lanceur”: like David against Goliath. This representation of the body in action is like a repeated choreography which is performed spontaneously across the fronts of rebellion in Paris, on May 1968, Londonderry (Northern Ireland) and Prague.

5. Nouvelle Vague

Young and passionate in the 60s: In addition to his work in areas of conflict, famine, and war, Caron also gives photography a unique view of the youth of the 1960’s. With images of famous muses (actresses and singers) as well as of university students, and youth on the street, Caron shows his talents for fashion photography and film stills developed during his work with Truffaut and Godard.

6. The last image

Looking at the reporter: After Biafra and Chad, doubt took hold of Caron. The lens of the camera turns back upon the reporter, and these images document the work of the photojournalist in the field. These portraits leave viewers with a mixed message, this is his own profession but the images are in no way heroic portrayals of the work of the photojournalist.

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Gilles Caron. 'Civil War in Biafra, Nigeria, November 1968' 1968

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Gilles Caron
Civil War in Biafra, Nigeria, November 1968
1968
© Fondation Gilles Caron

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Gilles Caron. 'Vietnam, November 1967' 1967

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Gilles Caron
Vietnam, November 1967
1967
© Fondation Gilles Caron

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Gilles Caron. 'Filmmaker and photographer Raymond Depardon, during the Civil War in Biafra, Nigéria, August 1968' 1968

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Gilles Caron
Filmmaker and photographer Raymond Depardon, during the Civil War in Biafra, Nigéria, August 1968
1968
© Fondation Gilles Caron

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The Musée de l’Elysée 
18, avenue de l’Elysée
CH – 1014 Lausanne
T: + 41 21 316 99 11

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday, 11am – 6pm
Closed Monday, except for bank holidays

The Musée de l’Elysée website

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17
Apr
12

Exhibition: ‘C’est la vie. Press photography since 1940’ at the Swiss National Museum, Zurich

Exhibition dates: 11th January – 22nd March 2012

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Another fascinating, quirky photography exhibition. The photographs from the 1940s are poignant, especially when we remember what was happening in the rest of Europe at this time. Contrary to popular opinion, the Swiss did not have an easy time of it during the Second World War: threatened with invasion by Hitler on one the hand, this landlocked country relied heavily on imports to survive. Many of its citizens were near starvation during the course of the war but they became more self sufficient, growing their own food. They also built up their military (ironically using pre-war German assembled Messerschmitt planes as a basis for their air force). The Germans knew that Switzerland would be a hard country to conquer so they did not force the issue. For an in depth look at the fate of neutral countries during the Second World War see the excellent book The Neutrals by Denis J. Fodor (Volume 35 of World War Two: Time-Life Books, 1982) which includes “chapters on Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Turkey, and others including their success or lack of success in maintaining their neutrality.” (Neal A. Wellons) There is also a picture essay on Switzerland. An absorbing read.

The photograph Swimming lessons for schoolchildren at the Wollishofen lakeside swimming area, Zurich (1943, below) is especially foreboding of the conflict that was swirling around Switzerland in 1943, the child’s heads in a noose as he tries to stay afloat a metaphor for the conflagration that was occurring all around. One slip for Switzerland, and the world, and it was over. Chilling.

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

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Anon
Frozen Lake Biel
1941
© Swiss National Museum

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Anon
Using boats to transport wood and stone on Lake Lugano
1940
© Swiss National Museum

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Anon
Swimming lessons for schoolchildren at the Wollishofen lakeside swimming area, Zurich
1943
© Swiss National Museum

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Anon
Walter Diggelmann repairs a tyre during the Tour de Suisse
1950
© Swiss National Museum

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“For the first time, the Swiss National Museum in Zurich presents its extensive archive of press photographs. The exhibition looks at recent Swiss history from the perspective of the press photographer and reveals how, in the second half of the 20th century, press photography developed into the photojournalism we know today.

Housed in three original pavilions by the designer and engineer Jean Prouvé from the 1940s, C’est la vie includes meticulously composed photographs depicting political events, episodes from everyday life, unforgettable moments, candid pictures of well-known personalities and portraits of everyday heroes. It also shows how the extensive photo reportages of the early years were superseded by individual snapshots – initially still in black and white, then in colour. New methods of image transfer and printing technologies enabled ever-increasing numbers of up-to-the-minute photos to appear in the daily press. From the 1960s onwards, the illustrated weekly press went into decline. The exhibition illustrates this process by juxtaposing an analogue picture agency from the 1940s with its present-day digital counterpart.

In 2006 the Swiss National Museum acquired the archives of the press photo agencies Presse Diffusion Lausanne and Actualité Suisse Lausanne, which together comprise millions of negatives, paper prints and transparencies from 1940 (foundation of PDL) to 2000 (closure of ASL). The archives are an ideal complement to the photographs taken by private individuals that previously formed the core of the Swiss National Museum’s photography collection. An examination of the archives soon revealed a wealth of treasures. The diversity, breadth and aesthetic quality of the photographic material are remarkable and exceptional. The new holdings will also be an invaluable source of visual material for the Swiss National Museum’s research activities.”

Press release from the Swiss National Museum website

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Anon
Two brothers in the Rhine harbour at Kleinhüningen, Basel
c. 1939
© Swiss National Museum

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Anon
Passenger in the dining car of the “Compagnie Suisse des Wagons-Restaurants”‘
c. 1940
© Swiss National Museum

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Anon
Elderly lady in a restaurant, Lausanne
1959
© Swiss National Museum

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Anon
Italian guest workers arriving in Switzerland
1956
© Swiss National Museum

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Swiss National Museum
Landesmuseum Zürich
Museumstrasse 2
8021 Zurich
T:  +41 (0)44 218 65 11

Opening hours:
Tue – Sun 10 am – 5 pm
On Thursdays the museum is open until 7 pm.

Swiss National Museum website

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08
Apr
12

Exhibition: ‘Karlheinz Weinberger: Intimate Stranger’ at Kunstmuseum Basel, Museum for Gegenwartskunst

Exhibition dates: 21st January – 15th April 2012

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Another relatively unknown artist, people whose work I like promoting on this blog. I certainly had never heard of this photographer. A self-taught part-time photographer who worked as a warehouseman most of his life, Weinberger published photographs in the homosexual magazine “Der Kreis,” the same early gay magazine that George Platt Lynes submitted photographs to in the last stages of his life.

While their might seem to be a dichotomy between the desirous photographs of male youth and the city toughs and “rowdies” gay men have always been drawn to rough trade: from Oscar Wilde who was more sexually drawn towards the swarthy young rough trade to contemporary iconography of gay skinheads and punks, still a prevalent culture in London for example. Tattoos, shaved heads, braces, Docs – in Weinberger’s case rockabillies. Notice how in the photograph of the male reclining with candlestick, the form of the candlestick mimics the spidery tattoo on the hand in the photograph above. Notice also how the crouching nude lad looks almost identical to the lad in the photograph below, with his hands thrust into his pockets emphasising the crutch area. And the earlier crutch photograph with the mating of Elvis and Vince over a skull and cross bones which has delicious, subversive homosocial overtones. Toughs or not, there is always the desire for the dangerous and different.

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

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Karlheinz Weinberger
Hardau, Zürich
1962
Schwarz-Weiss Fotografie
50.7 x 58 cm
Courtesy The Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger in care of Patrik Schedler, Zürich

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Karlheinz Weinberger
Knabenschiessen, Albisgütli, Zürich
1961
Schwarz-Weiss Fotografie
50.5 x 60.5 cm
Courtesy The Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger in care of Patrik Schedler, Zürich

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Karlheinz Weinberger
Fisherman with Hut, Sicily
ca. 1960
Schwarz-Weiss Fotografie
18.5 x 24 cm
Courtesy The Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger in care of Patrik Schedler, Zürich

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Karlheinz Weinberger
Drei zusammen (three together)
ca. 1965
Schwarz-Weiss Fotografie
50 x 53.5 cm
Courtesy The Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger in care of Patrik Schedler, Zürich

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Karlheinz Weinberger
Untitled, Zürich
ca. 1962
Schwarz-Weiss Fotografie
23.8 x 30.4 cm
Courtesy The Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger in care of Patrik Schedler, Zürich

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The exhibition presents the rarely shown work of the photographer Karlheinz Weinberger (1921–2006). Together with magazines and a selection of vintage apparel, the pictures document a youth culture in Zurich that emerged after World War II whose members sought to subvert contemporary notions of “Swiss correctness.”

Weinberger spent the largest part of his life working as a warehouseman for Siemens-Albis in Zurich. In his free time, he was a self-taught photographer, portraying his lovers and people he met in the street. From the late 1940s on, he frequently published his pictures in “Der Kreis,” a homosexual magazine produced in Zurich from 1943 until 1967 that garnered international attention, pseudonymously signing his work as “Jim.” In 1958, he launched a major project for which he would photograph a group of teenagers, the city’s so-called “Halbstarke,” over an extended period of time. Weinberger’s unfailingly respectful approach allowed him to capture the non-conformism of these “rowdies” with regard to social convention and their play with stereotypes of masculinity and femininity, most readily evident in the way they dressed.

Wearing embroidered denim jackets and oversized belt buckles adorned with the likenesses of idols such as Elvis or James Dean, Weinberger’s adolescent subjects present themselves to his camera in public settings like members of a gang. Photographs such as those taken at the Knabenschiessen, a target shooting competition held at Zurich’s Albisgüetli, show them sprawling on the ground between fairground stalls and compact vans, illustrating the “Halbstarke”‘s refusal to fit in with the traditions surrounding this Zurich folk festival. In addition to the photographs in public settings, Weinberger also took pictures in the improvised studio in his living room. Scantily clad, some of his subjects, mostly young men, strike confident poses showing off their denim shorts and hats, while others cower, their eyes glancing at the camera with a vulnerable expression. Weinberger’s role is that of an Intimate Stranger: he records the attitudes of a generation and its marginal social position in unvarnished pictures and develops the photographs capturing the objects of his fascination in his own photo laboratory.

In an oeuvre that spanned many years, Weinberger portrayed what lay behind the curtains of 1960s bourgeois Switzerland, finding ways to document deviancy without ever putting his protagonists on display.”

Press release from the Kunstmuseum Basel website

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Karlheinz Weinberger
Untitled
ca. 1969
Schwarz-Weiss Fotografie
30.4 x 23.8 cm
Courtesy The Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger in care of Patrik Schedler, Zürich

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Karlheinz Weinberger
Untitled
ca. 1961
Schwarz-Weiss Fotografie
24 x 18 cm
Courtesy The Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger in care of Patrik Schedler, Zürich

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Karlheinz Weinberger
Untitled
ca. 1960
Schwarz-Weiss Fotografie
39 x 29 cm
Courtesy The Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger in care of Patrik Schedler, Zürich

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Karlheinz Weinberger
Zürich am Limmatquai
1962
Schwarz-Weiss Fotografie
30 x 24 cm
Courtesy The Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger in care of Patrik Schedler, Zürich

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Karlheinz Weinberger
Milchbuck, Zürich
ca. 1962
Schwarz-Weiss Fotografie
60.5 x 49 cm
Courtesy The Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger in care of Patrik Schedler, Zürich

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Kunstmuseum Basel
St. Alban-Graben 16
CH-4010 Basel
T: 0041 (0)61 206 62 62

Opening hours:
Tue – Sun 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Closed on Monday

Kunstmuseum Basel website

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14
Feb
12

Exhibition: ‘Swiss Photobooks from 1927 to the present – A Different History of Photography’ at Fotostiftung Schweiz, Zurich

Exhibition dates: 22nd October 2011 – 19th February 2012

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

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Eduard Spelterini
Über den Wolken
Brunner & Co. A.G., Zurich
1928

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Albert Steiner
Schnee, Winter, Sonne
Rotapfel-Verlag, Zurich-Erlenbach/Leipzig
1930

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“Albert Steiner was one of the finest Swiss photographers of the twentieth century. Like Ansel Adams, he favored imposing natural phenomena, landscapes with what might be called good bone structure, (in his case the Alps, in Adams’s comparable work, the American West), and he printed his vision of them in black-and-white, revealing nature in all its majesty. His impressive scenic work has fundamentally shaped the world’s perception of Switzerland as an alpine country of timeless beauty. It spans the period from before World War I – an era of pictorially inspired images that look like oil paintings – to the straightforward and elegantly modern photography of the 1930s. Unlike many other photographers of the same generation active in the same area, Steiner saw photography as a completely appropriate means of creating works of art, and considered himself an artist.”

Text from Amazon. Albert Steiner The Photographic Work. Steidl November 21, 2008

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Jakob Tuggener
Fabrik
Rotapfel Verlag, Erlenbach-Zurich
1943

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“The Swiss Foundation for Photography (Fotostiftung Schweiz) is marking its fortieth anniversary by presenting a fresh view of Swiss photography – a tour d’horizon covering a range of illuminating photobooks in which not only the great themes of photography are reflected but also the development of photographic styles and modes of expression. Since the late 1920s the book has repeatedly proved itself to be an ideal platform for the presentation of photographic works. Books have not only contributed to the dissemination and transmission of photography but also facilitated the integration of the individual image into a meaningful context.

In the history of photography the photobook plays a major role not only in publicising photographs, but also as an independent means of expression. The significance of many photographers’ works only emerges when presented in book form, in the coherent sequence or series of images. Content, design and printing quality combine to produce an intricate architectural whole.

This jubilee exhibition marking the 40th anniversary of the Fotostiftung Schweiz focuses on a selection of photobooks that have influenced photography in Switzerland since the late 1920s. At that time, technical advances made the reproduction of top quality photographic images possible and promptly gave rise to a first boom in illustrated books that placed greater emphasis on the photographs than on the texts. Since then, Swiss photobooks have continued to develop in various directions and have repeatedly attracted considerable attention at international level as well.

With the help of seven thematic areas – homeland, portraiture, mountain photography, the world of work, aerial photography, contemporary history, travel – this exhibition aims at a kind of typology of the Swiss photobook which draws attention to the potential interplay between book and photograph, while also revealing the extent to which modes of expression have altered over the course of time. Concise excerpts from these books exhibited on the walls highlight the basic principle of each photobook – a photograph positioned on a double page still remains an integral part of a larger sequence. The concept, design and reception of photobooks are examined more closely in display cases. A large wall installation is devoted to photobook covers. The photobook is also presented as an object in film form: “reading” illustrated photography books is not just an intellectual but also a sensual act.”

Press release from the Fotostiftung Schweiz website

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Eduard Spelterini
Über den Wolken (cover)
Brunner & Co. A.G., Zurich
1928

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“Swiss balloonist Eduard Spelterini (1852-1931) lived an extraordinary life. Born the son of an innkeeper and beer brewer in a remote village in the Toggenburg area of Switzerland, Spelterini achieved international fame when he became the first aeronaut to fly over the Swiss Alps in 1898. Over the next two decades, Spelterini navigated his balloon through the skies of Europe, Africa, and Asia, and over such sites as the Great Pyramid of Giza and the gold mines of South Africa. Spelterini remains an important figure today because of his achievements in aerial photography. Seeking images to illustrate his lectures, he began taking a camera along with him on his expeditions in 1893, and his breathtaking photographs quickly became the talk of Europe.

Known as the “King of the Air,” the Swiss balloonist Eduard Spelterini enchanted the imaginations of European royalty, military generals, wealthy patrons, and the public alike with his mastery of the most whimsical mode of travel ever invented – the gas balloon. During the course of his storied aviation career, Spelterini flew his balloons over the Swiss Alps, across the Egyptian pyramids, and past the ziggurats of the Middle East, taking breathtaking photographs of landscapes and cities from the sky.
On Spelterini’s first ballooning ventures, he ferried aristocrats between Vienna, Bucharest, Athens, and other European capitals, on flights that became so famous that they were soon jam-packed with an international press corps looking for the next sensational story. Later in his life, Spelterini was the first aeronaut to succeed in the hazardous passage over the Swiss Alps, a trip then thought impossible. Eventually, he decided to bring his camera on every voyage in order to document the full panorama of international vistas he encountered.”
Text from Amazon
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Eduard Spelterini and the Spectacle of Images: The Colored Slides of the Pioneer Balloonist. Verlag Scheidegger and Spiess; Bilingual edition August 15, 2010, presents a selection of around eighty of Spelterini’s never-before-published colored slides, offering readers an altogether new look at the spectacular work of this pioneer of photography and aviation.

Eduard Spelterini – Photographs of a Pioneer Balloonist. Verlag Scheidegger and Spiess; Bilingual edition December 30, 2007 is the first book after 80 years to present these images of his journeys, reproduced directly from the artist’s original glass negatives. Contextualized by essays that explore both Spelterini’s life and his photographic work, the photographs featured in this volume capture the heady mix of danger and discovery that defined the early years of international air travel when balloons ruled the skies.

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Walter Mittelholzer
Alpenflug (cover)
Orell Füssli, Zurich/Leipzig
1928

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Jakob Tuggener
Fabrik (cover)
Rotapfel Verlag, Erlenbach-Zurich
1943

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“Jakob Tuggener’s Fabrik, published in Zurich in 1943, is a milestone in the history of the photography book. Its 72 images, in the expressionist aesthetic of a silent movie, impart a skeptical view of technological progress: at the time the Swiss military industry was producing weapons for World War II. Tuggener, who was born in 1904, had an uncompromisingly critical view of the military-industrial complex that did not suit his era. His images of rural life and high-society parties had been easy to sell, but Fabrik found no publisher. And when the book did come out, it was not a commercial success. Copies were sold at a loss and some are believed to have been pulped. Now this seminal work, which has since become a sought-after classic, is being reissued with a contemporary afterword. In his lifetime, Tuggener’s work appeared – at Robert Frank’s suggestion – in Edward Steichen’s Post-War European Photography and in The Museum of Modern Art’s seminal exhibition, ‘The Family of Man’, in whose catalogue it remains in print. Tuggener’s death in 1988 left an immense catalogue of his life’s work, much of which has yet to be shown: more than 60 maquettes, thousands of photographs, drawings, watercolors, oil paintings and silent films.”

Book description on Amazon. The book has been republished by Steidl in January, 2012. The classics never go out of fashion!

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Andri Pol
Grüezi
Kontrast Verlag, Zurich
2006

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Fotostiftung Schweiz
Grüzenstrasse 45
CH-8400 Winterthur (Zürich)
T: +41 52 234 10 30

Opening hours:
Daily 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Wednesday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Closed on Mondays

Fotostiftung Schweiz website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Mask’ 1994

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