EXHIBITION Sep 21, 2013 — Jan 24, 2014
In the current exhibition, Kicken Berlin explores the international movement of subjective photography in the late 1940s to the early 1960s. With its origins in the subjektive fotografie exhibits organized by Otto Steinert in 1951, 1954 and 1958 in Germany, subjective photography found important equivalents in North and Latin America as well as in Asia. From the late 1940s on, an international movement in photography was responding to the challenge of the pre-war avant-garde. Its goals were to go beyond the mimetic representation of the visible and to create artistic images by purely photographic means and experimental techniques. Kicken considers subjective photography a global movement and will therefore explore the diversified approaches of European, American and Asian artists in its exhibition.
Key pieces demonstrate the direct and subjective approach of German artist Otto Steinert and his international contemporaries such as North Americans Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind; Latin Americans Sameer Makarius, Geraldo de Barros, and Thomaz Farkas; and Japanese photographers Kiyoshi Niiyama and Takashi Kijima, among others. Callahan and Siskind were based at the Chicago Institute of Design, which László Moholy-Nagy founded as the “New Bauhaus” in 1937; this anchor in the pre-war avant-garde facilitated the subjective movement to draw explicitly on the work of forerunner artists such as Moholy-Nagy, Man Ray and Herbert Bayer.
The main focal point of the presentation will be on abstraction, or what Otto Steinert called the fifth and highest level of creative photography: the “absolute fotografische Gestaltung,” or absolute photographic design. It realized its ideals in works like Steinert’s luminograms, photogram work by Arthur Siegel and Pim van Os, Harry Callahan’s and Geraldo de Barros’ abstract grids of architecture and Monika von Boch’s rhythmic black-and-white structural works.
The aim of our exhibition and catalogue will be to highlight the variety in the mid-twentieth-century avant-garde photography movement in Europe, North America, Latin America and Japan. The show aims to provide an overview of the photographic image as an aesthetic graphic exercise – a realm of signs that relates to visible reality but extends beyond a simple representation of common things.
Monika von Boch
Geraldo de Barros
Pim van Os