subjektive fotografie 2
EXHIBITION Feb 2 — Apr 24, 2014
The international reception of the subjective photography movement in the 1950s and the work of Otto Steinert, its most important proponent, have been an important reference point for Galerie Kicken for decades. Building on this foundation, we were able to bring together numerous diverse works related to his aesthetic in the show subjektive fotografie. Adventures in the Visual Field. The positive resonance our survey found among visitors, collectors, and institutions was the best possible confirmation of our conviction of the great significance of this second avant-garde. With this exhibition we thus invite an interested audience to delve into further “Wagnisse des Optischen” – adventures in the visual field – as Steinert himself so aptly put it.
The photograms of Swiss photographer Werner Bischof are a true discovery, as he was otherwise known for his participative, human reportage. The playfully light, glowing compositions of abstract-geometric elements were part of Hans Finsler’s student’s early body of work while at the Zurich School of Applied Arts.
We have also delved deeper into the extraordinarily rich and exciting oeuvre of South American photography. São Paulo was Brazil’s hub of art photograph from the 1940s through the 1960s. Thomaz Farkas, Gaspar Gasparian, and Marcel Giró were prominent exponents of the São Paulo school. Geometric abstractions, bold black-and-white contrasts, and atmospheric movement studies were hallmarks of their work.
Argentina was also involved in the modern movement at mid century, primarily represented by Sameer Makarius and the Grupo Forum, which he founded in 1956. The artist group was unified by an aesthetic that favored a subjective photographic composition that went beyond the mere illustration of reality. Following these aims, they put on exhibitions through 1960 at the Galeria Galatea in Buenos Aries and published portfolios. The members included José Costa, Rodolfo Ostermann, and Ricardo Sansó. This partially unknown material has only seldom been shown in Europe.
In addition to Otto Steinert’s work, we are also showing pieces by others from the fotoform cohort, including Siegfried Lauterwasser, Ludwig Windstosser, Toni Schneiders, and Peter Keetman, as well as European proponents of the style such as Swede Christer Strömholm and Japanese artists Kiyoshi Niiyama and Takashi Kijima. Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind represent the American tradition of László Moholy-Nagy’s New Bauhaus. Moholy-Nagy integrated his principles of “light design” into the New Bauhaus’s classes and in those of the successor institution, the Chicago Institute of Design, where both Callahan and Siskind later taught.
Alongside the works of the second avant-garde at mid century, we are also presenting a small exhibition of the works of Pictorialist Heinrich Kühn. One of the most significant proponents of art photography at the turn of the twentieth century, Kühn was an authority on the gum bichromate printing technique. From the mid 1890s, he developed a visual language centered around landscape motifs, in which he tested the interplay of shapes and surfaces, light and shadow, and thus created a foundation of modern artistic vision. Indeed, Kühn’s and the Pictorialists’ focus on free artistic creativity in photography remained influential to Otto Steinert. We have taken the opportunity here to show some of Kühn’s rare large-format landscapes.
Geraldo de Barros
dates of birth and death unknown
Pim van Os