Here the Swiss Photo Foundation shows and describes highlights from its collection
The classic artist’s studio is an inspiring place: a space in which ideas and fantasies take on material form, permeated with creativity and mostly full of traces that tell of the struggle for the valid work. Alberto Giacometti’s Paris studio was exemplary in this regard. It was crammed with unfinished sculptures, the walls littered with sketches; the plaster sediments that covered the ground kept forming new formations.
The photographer Ernst Scheidegger (1923–2016), trained at the Zurich School of Applied Arts and friends with Giacometti, enjoyed privileged access to this magical world. In 1960 he was allowed to take photos in Giacometti’s studio, while the master devoted all his energy to a sculpture intended for a place in New York. From the series of photos taken at the time, one shot stands out: it shows the artist’s legs in plaster-covered trousers on the right, the stilted legs of a figure on the left, which seem to be rushing away from their creator.
The small scene, which gains spatial depth through the light falling from the side, acts like a metaphor for Giacometti’s incessant search for perfection. The artist vacillated every day between fulfillment and despair. Often he revised the result without ever reaching the goal – or destroyed it in order to start again immediately. Scheidegger’s photography also tells of the unfinished that runs through Giacometti’s work. Reduced to its feet, it shows stillness and movement at the same time – as if the artist had just breathed life into his sculpture. While he freezes to a pillar, she steals lightly away.
Like an artificial backdrop, the panorama of the snow-covered Valais Alps sits on a structure that easily acts as a side wall a motorway bridge can be seen. The reversal of the situation is perfect: Nicolas Faure 1949) prefers to direct his camera precisely at those phenomena that are usually faded out in landscape photographs. The concrete block floating elegantly above the ground and its shadow are set so dominantly into the picture that the usual perception of the mountains suddenly collapses.
Faure takes the revaluation to extremes by recording the landscape in the most beautiful postcard weather and presenting his photography as a large-format, painting-like tableau.
In Switzerland he was one of the first to focus consistently on color. With extensive projects he is always looking for the unadorned face of the present – not as a critic, but as a sober, unexcited observer of repressed and overlooked facts. Faure’s book “Switzerland On the Rocks” (1992), which investigates the compulsive decoration of gardens with “wild” boulders, was continued in “Autoland” (1999), an essay on the transformation of the landscape through technical and structural interventions, and finally in «Landscape A» (2005), a work about motorways, which also includes the bulky picture from Valais.
The boy grips the girl’s forearm with large, strong fingers. It’s hard to believe that the hand belongs to this adolescent. In a butcher’s apron and smock, including a tie, he presents himself as an apprentice or employee. Next to him, brought to the right height by the photographer, is probably his sister. So the boy can pull her protectively towards him, hold her tight like the cat, who would rather jump away.
In the In the Blenio valley, a barren mountain valley in Ticino, sibling care was important at the beginning of the 20th century; Many families had to emigrate in order to survive, while those who stayed at home were also dependent on the labor of their children, who contributed to the nutrition of large households.
The touching double portrait is due to the self-taught Roberto Donetta (1865–1932), who works as a seed dealer regularly hiked through the entire Blenio Valley. What he earned, he invested in photography. Soon the eccentric became the chronicler of the valley he hardly ever left – with portraits, wedding pictures, numerous shots of children who look seriously and solemnly into the camera. Most of the time, they look like little adults. But with photography, Donetta also brought poetry to the valley. Whenever he showed up with his heavy glass plate camera, he became a director who turned the surroundings into a studio, inventing virtuoso improvised and loving compositions with the few props available. Donetta was an unrecognized, sometimes desperate artist in a remote area, completely addicted to his passions and dreams. In the end it broke.
Ernst A. Heiniger (1909–1993) and his wife Jean drove along the Japanese coast for weeks to find the right location for a film that they commissioned in 1956 realized by Walt Disney. Disney had launched the new documentary film series “People and Places” and discovered the Swiss photographer and cameraman while visiting the “World Exhibition of Photography” in Lucerne.
Heiniger was immediately engaged for three films – one about Switzerland and two about Japan. The photographer, who grew up on a farm in Urdorf, moved to the USA, began a career in Hollywood and was enthusiastic about the new challenges. For “People and Places”, for example, Heiniger appropriated the new cinemascope process with widescreen, for which at that time there were only color films with weak light sensitivity. Despite the documentary approach, he worked with studio-like productions and artificial light to compensate for the technical deficiency of the film material.
A day’s trip west of Tokyo, Ernst A. Heiniger found a place that he imagined: the archaic fishing village of Inatori. He selected a few villagers, arranged them into a family and let them play their “authentic” everyday life. Yukiko – an 18-year-old hairdresser in real life – is one of those divers with special skills in the film. They stay under water for minutes to harvest the coveted seaweed.
The 30-minute film “Ama Girls” won an Oscar in 1959 and spurred Heiniger’s further career. Numerous photographs were taken on the set between filming, such as this shot of the alleged diver who had just emerged from the sea. As a kind of mermaid she embodies a phantasm: beautiful, mysterious, exotic and aloof.
The broken light bulb looks like an answer to Hans Finsler’s icon of the flawless eggs. Luzzi Herzog (1915–2002) and Michael Wolgensinger (1913–1990) met in his photography class at the Zurich School of Applied Arts. In 1936, two years before their wedding, the two founded a studio for product photography, photo reports and advertising.
In the following five decades, the image ideas had to adapt to the aesthetics of the time and the wishes of customers: Lush, sometimes humorous presentations of the objects to be advertised were created; Wolgensinger’s studio was also known for color photography. But the picture of the lightbulb from 1968 paraphrases the New Photography of the 1920s and 1930s: The pieces were arranged with the greatest precision in such a way that they are reminiscent of a compact pear shape. They were lit so skilfully that the edges stand out like black lines from the white background and the glass is tinted darker in the center.
A masterpiece of product photography, but with the The purpose of the advertisement was denied – the light bulb shown can still be identified as such, but is useless in this condition. In this combination of destruction and perfection, the picture becomes an end in itself, a work of art.
(K) an ordinary bed
Photographs open up spaces. Often the observing gaze penetrates through the surface of the picture, it applies to the depicted scene and ignores the medium. The photography of this sparse interior resists such an approach – a stained wall, a bed lit by a desk lamp is illuminated.
The recording was made in 1969 when Balthasar Burkhard (1944 to 2010) visited his artist friend Markus Raetz (1941 to 2020) in his studio in Amsterdam . For an exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Luzern, the two enlarged the picture a year later to a width of 2.60 meters on a photo canvas. With the unusual materiality and the large format, they called for a critical examination of perception, in the spirit of the sentence “The medium is the message” of the sociologist Marshall McLuhan from 1964.
The photographed folds of the bedspread and the actual folds of the canvas overlap, space and surface mix. When it comes to creating the perfect illusion, photography is superior to painting. As an artistic medium, however, it still had to prove itself at the beginning of the 1970s. With conceptual and monumental works like this one, the Burkhard / Raetz duo undermined common viewing habits – crossing boundaries that paved the way for photography into museums.
A resting pole
As in-house photographer for the Swiss National Transport Authority, Philipp Giegel (1927–1997) shaped the appearance of tourism advertising for 43 years. The graduate of Hans Finsler’s photography class at the Zurich School of Applied Arts took countless pictures of skiers and hikers in front of mountain panoramas. He was particularly fond of photographing sporting competitions that allowed him to display speed and dynamics in a spectacular way. Movement also plays an important role in the street scene captured in Zurich – the center of the composition, however, is claimed by a statue-like figure: the newspaper seller, wrapped in a coat and blanket, does not let herself be disturbed while the world around her is in a hurry.
The ski racer on the cover of the magazine for sale is racing down the mountain twice. A passerby rushes by and deliberately overlooks the protagonist. A window cleaner swirls his rag over the glass. Three people meet in a confined space, but none of them pays attention to the other. The fourth actor is the photographer, who stops time and thus makes himself an accomplice to the newspaper seller. The city can only be seen indirectly and reversed in the shop windows. So she appears more fleeting, more fragile than the woman enthroned in the center, who rebels in her own way against transience.
A cinema in four pictures
A clown, a madman, a street artist, a city original? The man’s idiosyncratic gestures refuse to be classified into familiar categories. But with the strange performance, he succeeds in inviting passers-by to linger – and participate. Four shots are enough for Werner Gadliger 1950) to dissolve the static of photography. The picture story becomes an animated flip book. Whereby “animated” can also be translated as “animated”: if you leaf through Gadliger’s book maquette “Encounters” from 1979, you will encounter very real individuals.
They are loving photographic dialogues, as equals the protagonists of the Aware of the approach of the photographer. Often they react to his presence with looks or grimaces. “I don’t photograph people to expose them, but to capture their uniqueness,” writes Gadliger. Originals and outsiders as well as artists – sculptors, painters, filmmakers and writers – come to the show. Whether known or not, Gadliger feels related to them. His work reads like a manifesto for diversity, a plea against small minds. His absurd poems and surrealistic drawings also prove: A generous view of the world opens up here, in which much has space.
The dancer dominates the picture: frozen in motion, her head as if in a trance thrown backwards, one arm outstretched as if reaching for a ray of sunshine. Her hand marks the tip of a compositional triangle, in the corners of which the Elevinnen, sitting on the floor, set the rhythm with the cymbal, tambourine and triangle. They observe and support the representation of this body, which stands out brightly from the background in an airy shirt.
The Rhythm study by Walter Schwabe (1887–1961) conveys concentration and dedication – and the modernity of Suzanne Perrottet’s dance school. She was a pioneer of expressive dance, which was developed as part of a life-reforming utopia.
The classic composition of photography and the The technical implementation as bromine pressure contrasts with the radicalism of the new dance – the picture follows the conventions of pictorialism, for which painting served as a model. In fact, Schwabe, a trained lithographer, worked as a painter in Munich until 1914 before emigrating to Switzerland to avoid being drafted into the war. He ran a photo studio in Zurich from 1915 to 1961 and specialized in dance photography in addition to portraits, material and fashion shoots. Apparently his fascination for modern body language was greater than his interest in the visual language of avant-garde photography.
The moment after
It was the moment when the wave of international showbiz swept over sedate Switzerland, with such force that rioting fans turned the seating in the Zurich Hallenstadion into small wood – the guest performance of the Rolling Stones on April 14, 1967. The photograph by Candid Lang ( 1930 to 2006) documents the beginning of the subsequent youth revolts, which went down in history as the “Globuskrawall” (1968) or the “Opera House Riots” (1980). The tough crackdown by the city police formed the breeding ground for the clashes, which often broke out on the occasion of cultural events.
As an extremely productive photographer, Lang was a big name in Swiss press photography. Following the ideal of authenticity, his reports and portraits of numerous personalities still seem fresh and spontaneous to this day. The recording from the Hallenstadion lives from a special tension: It shows a chaotic situation from an elevated perspective. The stadium is brightly lit and resembles a battlefield. Although the actual riots after the concert are over, hundreds of knocked over and destroyed folding chairs testify to the brutality of what happened. The riots became the focus of media coverage, the fans stole the show from the Rolling Stones to a certain extent.
The wired The notebook in the man’s face makes us think of virtual reality glasses that simulate three-dimensional worlds. But it also obscures the man’s view and prevents him from perceiving anything. Do the electronic media provide new insights – or do they prevent them? Art Ringger 1946) seems to anticipate this question prophetically. It is true that the personal computer had already started its triumphant advance in 1995 when the picture was taken. Since then, however, the replacement of the Gutenberg galaxy by the Turing galaxy has advanced exponentially: networked computers have replaced the book as the leading global medium. Ringger’s series From the forest of books to the data network addresses this media change with wit and ingenuity and last but not least, a lot of technical skill.
The «Fotomontör», as he called himself, made a name for himself as a master of analogue photomontage, before digital image processing made it child’s play. His work falls into this phase of transformation: the transition from photo print to freely circulating image file has also radically changed his approach to photography. Art Ringger’s style is hyper-realistic, often based on analog black-and-white montages that he hand-colored with an airbrush technique. A trademark with which he amazed his audience – and which the photographer and illustrator used extremely well for the purposes of satire, advertising and art.
Jules Decrauzat, crash of the plane François Durafour, Collex near Geneva, 1911
Jules Decrauzat / Photopress archive / Keystone
With broken wings, François Durafour’s biplane lies in the thicket of trees and bushes – another Swiss aviation pioneer lost the fight against gravity on July 23, 1911 near Geneva. The photographer Jules Decrauzat (1879–1960) climbed a tree to get a good picture of the scene. From a bird’s eye view, you can see the summer hats of the elegantly dressed people who crowd around the wreck. But if you search the picture carefully, you will make a nasty discovery: In the lower left corner, half covered by leaves, you can see the face of a man, undoubtedly the pilot. His eyes are closed – is he dead?
Born in Biel and trained as a sculptor in Geneva, Jules Decrauzat was Switzerland’s first professional photo reporter. As early as 1900 he made a name for himself in the French press with gripping snapshots, from 1910 he worked for the Geneva magazine “La Suisse Sportive” and devoted himself to the emerging aviation sport. Decrauzat was an ardent advocate of progress: wherever speed records were set, he was there. Inevitably, he was also an eyewitness to many of the tragedies that the new age brought with it. In this case it could be that the photographer didn’t discover the fallen hero until he was developing the picture in the darkroom – luckily he already knew that Durafour had survived the crash.
Midsummer Night’s Dream
That happened in the tabernacle from which the girl with the rabbit rushes out? The ball left behind indicates a harmless child’s play, the child’s summer clothes glow in cheerful colors. But the nocturnal scene, captured like a snapshot, appears gloomy and unsettling. The little witch crouches and shakes as if she wanted to free herself from an invisible hand. She herself holds the wriggling animal by the neck – what she does to him seems to happen to her herself. “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are”, quotes the photographer Christian Vogt 1946) from a Talmudic sentence and thus explains his relationship to photography, his awareness that there is no objective perception of reality gives, let alone a general interpretation of images.
From the 1970s, Vogt made a name for himself as a photo artist who made use of the diverse possibilities of his medium exhausted: He stages, constructs, integrates language and writing. But he also appreciates the “associative potential of reality”. For example, in the Flaxen Diary series, created from 2003: Incidents observed by chance are turned into enigmatic works of art, fragments of a narrative, through lighting and excerpts. However, this narrative only becomes meaningful when the viewer looks for meaning.
Behind a curtain made of pine trunks stand the masters’ houses. Lucia Moholy (1894–1989) made necessity a virtue: she integrated the trees into the picture. The dark trunks break through the horizontal lines of the Bauhaus buildings in Dessau and divide the white facade into squares, the basic geometric element of modern architecture. The blurry tufts of the treetops create a contrast to the relentless clarity of the buildings. These must once have seemed disturbingly modern and alien to the inhabitants of Dessau, but in Moholy’s portrayal they do not seem to threaten the old order.
The New Objectivity, implemented here in architecture and photography, was the defining style at the Bauhaus and was developed by the The photographer consistently pursued: Soberly and with high quality standards, she went to work when she photographed the objects from the workshops – from the coffee cup to the furnishing of entire rooms. Her pictures were an instrument with which the Bauhaus tried to establish its ideas and market its products. While her husband, the Bauhaus teacher László Moholy-Nagy, became famous for his experimental approach, Lucia Moholy, who lived in Zollikon from 1959, has shaped the myth of the avant-garde institution with her photographs to this day.
The young woman strides purposefully through a group of men. She has a tight grip on her purse and concentrates on the floor so as not to return any of the many male glances she is exposed to. Armin Haab (1919 to 1991) recorded this situation in São Paulo in 1952. Did he want to document Latin American machismo? That would fit the ethnographic interest with which Haab traveled in many countries.
The offspring of a mill owner and later owner of the mill was financially secure. He traveled, collected Mexican graphics and took photos. Haab was professionally trained, but he could afford to pursue his private interests – without an assignment or deadline pressure. An impressive work was created between 1948 and 1969, which Haab put together in over 40 cassettes; some of his reports appeared in the magazine “Du”.
In the above shot he caught the decisive moment. The protagonist is in the center, the extras form a circle around her, some turn around to look at her. The male behavior seems intrusive and enthusiastic at the same time, voyeurism and admiration are close together. Also in Haab’s photography: The picture is a piece of booty and at the same time a compliment to a proud, self-confident woman who does not allow herself to be distracted from her path by macho behavior.
The shadow figure has just landed in a fog of light, only one foot is on the inclined plane , the tip of her coat is still fluttering. Through the wing-like au With her arms outstretched, she seems connected to the stars above her, dancing with them through the galaxy. Jean-Pascal Imsand (1960–1994), the creator of this gloomy bird man, was a trained lithographer, but from the mid-1980s he made a name for himself as a photographer with large essays for publications such as “Du”, NZZ, “Das Magazin” or “Le Nouveau” Quotidia ». His outstanding achievements include the assemblies with which he demonstrated his craftsmanship and imaginative power in the darkroom. In the work “Die Milchstrasse”, for example, at least two images flow seamlessly into one another by exposing different negatives one after the other on the same paper – an analog process that anticipates digital techniques. Imsand blended real scenes perfectly and created a new, surreal dream image; he drew from his negative fund and used it to compose dark fantasies, like the brain in sleep at night. Jean-Pascal Imsand would have been credited with many more brilliant projects. But in 1994, at the age of 34, he committed suicide. Against this background, the motif is reminiscent of the sorcerer’s apprentice who can no longer get rid of the spirits he called.
In a circle the photographer family
Two generations of a family of photographers who were among the pioneers in Switzerland: Johann Baptist Taeschler (1805–1866), surrounded by his sons Emil, Max and Ludwig. Carl, the oldest, is probably behind the camera. The watchmaker Taeschler mastered the daguerreotype, the first commercially usable photography process, just a few years after the patent application was filed in Paris in 1839. He used this elaborate unique technique to capture the portraits of wealthy people on silver-plated copper plates – initially as a traveling photographer, from 1850 in his photo studio in St. Fiden near St. Gallen.
The artistic claim is revealed in the company name «photographic-artistic Atelier Taeschler», under which the Taeschler brothers continued the business after the death of their father. They were known for painterly retouching negatives and high quality prints. Something of the flair of an artist family also resonates in this, for the time, unaccustomedly informal family picture: Although they had to hold still for a long time, the boys with their elegant foulards are not grouped rigidly around their father, who emphasizes the familiar with his house cap. At the same time, the placement and expression of the hands appear carefully studied. It’s probably not the first time they’ve been posing in front of the camera.
Such private family pictures only found general distribution almost 40 years later, with the introduction of handheld cameras and roll film. It is noteworthy that the female family members contributed effectively to the business success, but did not find a corresponding place either in the picture or in the family chronicle.
Wind from the south
In the Piedmontese early summer, Anny Wild-Siber (1865–1942) captured a strange picture: a Mediterranean landscape with rolling hills and cypresses, framed of a flowering gorse bush and a branch of a tree swaying in the wind. While the sharpness of the picture is reserved for the gorse, the landscape appears so remote, as if it were a painted background. The velvety colourfulness of the photography contributes to the dreamlike atmosphere.
The subdued colourfulness is typical of the autochrome plates, which came on the market in 1907 and also allowed laypeople to use color taking photos. For the process, the glass plates, which served as the carrier for the light-sensitive emulsion, were additionally coated with a layer of orange, green and purple colored potato starch granules. These worked as light filters and created a pointillist color effect.
Anny, the youngest daughter of the Zurich silk manufacturer Siber, had married Emilio Wild in 1893 and moved with him to northern Italy, where he did business successfully in the cotton industry and – financially secure – devoted herself to art: first she painted still lifes and copied old masters, later she took photos. Thanks to the Lumière brothers’ autochrome invention, their landscapes and flower arrangements came astonishingly close to painting.
The lightness of being
Three years after the end of the war, Martin Glaus (1927-2006) from Thun photographs an unspectacular street scene in Nice: Through a large iron gate, the panes of which have been partially knocked out, the view falls on children playing, poor facades, a paved street and the laundry hanging over it. The gate takes up most of the picture area; Shreds of torn posters merge with the grid structure to form an abstract pattern that connects almost organically with what is happening on the street and the textiles in the air. The superimposition of the different levels obstructs the unobstructed view – a deconstruction that shows that photography can only ever be fragmentary. Glaus, who has just finished his training, seems to register rather than focus with his camera. He belongs to the generation of young photographers who, after the war, turned their backs on the clean, objective, euphemistic and bloodless photography of their fathers with “subjective photography”.
The picture title Stadt-Spielplatz is more than a synopsis; This also includes a general interest in everyday urban life, in which the public and private come together in a small space and the juxtaposition of different living environments enables unpredictable images – a stimulating environment for lyrical, expressive photography in which the personal viewing experience is more important than the objective depiction. Glaus observes the children on the street from a respectful distance without disturbing them while they are playing. Framed by gray and black fields, they convey an idea of the lightness of being.
So far, so close
Yvonne Griss, from the series «Melancholie», 1988.
Pictures Yvonne Griss / Fotostiftung Schweiz
Television should bring the foreign closer to us, bring the big wide world right into our living room. However, these four spectators do not seem particularly fascinated. Rather thoughtful and absorbed in oneself. Yvonne Griss (1957–1996) was interested in the facial expressions of television viewers and remarked: “At this moment, people are immersed in a state of inner contemplation.” So does the view into the distance become a journey to ourselves? The pictures are part of the series “Melancholie”, which appeared in 1988 in the magazine “Du”. The high-contrast black and white and the dramatic lighting through the bright screen, which draws the portrayed under its spell and distracts them from the camera, make the recordings look like film images.
After completing his apprenticeship as an industrial photographer, Griss did an internship as a camerawoman and worked in film production. The conceptual way of working and the careful staging were also part of her photographic practice. With a lot of imagination and a willingness to experiment, she often illustrated abstract topics for various Swiss magazines. She photographed menstruation and childlessness, but also created a humorous series about gun fools and exotic pets. Griss did not travel to distant lands on the hunt for a photo report – in those years reporting was more and more taken over by television anyway. Instead, she turned her gaze to the mostly overlooked, the private, the obvious
Modeling with light
In the 1920s and 1930s, an avant-garde sounded out the means of photographic design: unusual cut-outs , Perspectives or lighting effects were used to present the familiar in a surprisingly new, even strange way. In cooperation between the photographer Martin Imboden and the dancer and later theater scholar Axi (actually Agnes) Bleier, her face served as a projection surface for a joint staging.
Martin Imboden (1893–1935) was a trained carpenter, very interested in music and versatile. After various courses and the first published reports, he decided in 1929 to turn photography into a profession. As already as an apprentice, he went hiking again, this time with the camera, and remained a traveler until his early accidental death.
During his stay in Vienna, he moved around the area the free dance scene, which tried out new, expressive elements far away from classical ballet. With his photographs, Imboden tried not to document this expressive dance, but to recreate it. In the photo by Axi Bleier, the expressivity focuses on the facial features modeled by the light – it does not come from within, but is placed over the face like a mask from the outside.
Imboden’s picture exposes the physiognomic clichés of the time when photographic portraits were misused to classify people into races and to determine their characters. One can understand his Sphinx as an antithesis to so-called type photography.
In earlier times the high mountains were a feared, eerie zone; It was not until the 19th century that adventurers began to climb peaks. Climbing got a deeper meaning: Whoever reached the top had achieved a victory, gained a view and insight and symbolically marked the territory.
The latter plays a central role in the recording that Jean Gaberell (1887 – 1949) made at Pizzo Gallina during the First World War. The Gotthard massif, to which the Gallina belongs, became the epitome of the Alpine fortress of Switzerland. In fact, if you take a closer look, you can see that the two exposed figures are not just daring athletes, but fearless guards. They pose for the photographer like toy figures and occupy “their” mountain. A bright mountain lake shines deep below them, which makes the almost vertical rock face even more dramatic.
Jean Gaberell, whose photographic archive has been lost, learned from the successful Thalwil postcard publisher Gebr. Wehrli AG how photography can be used to reach a wide audience. Later he made a name for himself with impressive pictures of the Swiss mountains, in wartime also in a military context. Many of his photos were printed in brochures with which the army wanted to strengthen the will to fight. He summarized his best landscape photos in two opulent volumes under the title “Gaberell’s Swiss Pictures” (1927/30): thanks to excellent gravure printing quality, a milestone in the history of Swiss photo books.
Johann Baptist Nikolaus Schönwetter: F. Jenny-Becker does breathing exercises according to Keller-Hoerschelmann, around 1913.
Collection Photo Foundation Switzerland
This bearded man does his exercises almost naked, stretching his arms with the weights in his hands , bends the muscular legs. Long before leggings and yoga mats, tight panties offered freedom of movement and a rug served as a base. The athlete was photographed in the studio of Johann Baptist Nikolaus Schönwetter (1875–1954) in Glarus. Usually the carpet with a few pieces of furniture formed the backdrop for portraits in a middle-class style. The neutral background gives the gymnastics pictures a scientific character, even if they look rather comical from today’s perspective. How did a photographer who was best known for his landscapes and portraits end up doing squats?
The two poses belong to a 31-part leporello with glued-in original photographs; this refers to the guide “My respiratory system” by Dr. med. Adolf Keller-Hoerschelmann. As a supporter of the life reform movement, the doctor propagated these breathing exercises in the “air costume” to promote general well-being, to activate self-healing powers and to liberate spirit and soul. “If we want to move forward in the air bath movement, we just have to get used to the sight of the naked person,” said Keller-Hoerschelmann.
Dream about flying
The coat flies, arms and legs are in quick motion, the head thrown to one side and the blowing hair give the figure additional dynamism. The young woman looks playful and carefree, in her sweeping turn she transforms into a dancer. The empty street becomes the place of dreams for a short time – before the shabby houses in the background bring us back to reality. Anita Niesz (1925–2013) took this photograph in Troyes in 1956. The textile city in eastern France was heavily bombed by the Germans at the beginning of World War II, and almost the entire population had left the city beforehand.
The cathedral was not damaged, the houses in the picture also seem intact, but the area along the street was before War built up. Barriers, piles of rubble, the excavation pit and a backhoe suggest that new living space will be created here more than ten years after the end of the war. The photographer Anita Niesz traveled to France and Italy again and again; she worked for the cultural magazine “Du”, the NZZ and for organizations such as Pro Juventute or the Pestalozzi Children’s Village. Children and young people play an important role in their work. The picture from Troyes represents the departure of a new generation into a new time; but it also reminds us that not everyone benefited equally from the economic miracle of the post-war period.
As pure as in the laundry detergent advertising, the white cloth diapers hang on the line and shine with the snow fields in the background to the bet. The clothespins in funny colors are placed at regular intervals, the floor is swept well. The scenery that Charles Weber 1947) photographed in Appenzell looks like an installation loaded with Swiss clichés: fantastic panorama, rural seclusion, fresh air, accuracy, order and cleanliness. The author is attracted by this collection of striking motifs, which he turns into caricatures. For his “Jardin Suisse” series, created in 1989, Weber photographed the design of exterior spaces across the country.
The locations and excerpts are pointedly chosen, some bizarre excesses of Swiss taste can be found below. In addition, a piece of the natural landscape is visible in almost every image in the series. Shortly before the 700th anniversary in 1991, the question of Switzerland’s identity was a much discussed topic. How can you recognize it? In the mountain landscape with snow-covered peaks, which has provided the backdrop of their lives for generations of Appenzellers? The order and tidiness? Or the tendency to transform nature into a cute little garden – as the title of the work suggests – in which people set up their small, ideal world?
India on the thread of fate
When Walter Bosshard arrived in the Indian coastal town of Dandi on April 7, 1930, the situation is explosive. Gandhi has just finished the great salt march – an unheard-of, non-violent provocation, which is why he has to expect his arrest almost every hour. Nevertheless, the Swiss reporter managed to penetrate the inner circle of the Indian independence movement: for one morning he was allowed to photograph Gandhi while he was eating, shaving, reading, joking and discussing. Walter Bosshard (1892–1975) immersed himself deeply in the festive atmosphere. The concentration of the charismatic Mahatma is echoed in the faces of his followers, who listen devoutly to his words.
Away from the seething mood on the street, they seem to be practicing spiritual discipline – a community unwaveringly clinging to their ideals. The photographed moment has a deeper meaning: the cotton and the hand-spun white clothes are symbols of resistance, and Gandhi’s gesture seems to indicate that the fate of India is hanging by a thread. When the “Münchner Illustrierte Presse” published Bosshard’s photo report under the title “Mahatma Gandhi private!” published, the sensation is perfect: the first “home story” about the most famous man of his time goes around the world. And it is anything but private.
shimmering and pulsing
Is this picture still a photograph? In addition to his work as an advertising photographer, Roger Humbert 1929 in Basel) began to try out artistic expression in the late 1940s. His experiments in the darkroom led him, among other things, to the so-called luminogram: With the help of stencils, grids and Plexiglas, Humbert designed light and shadow so that they emerged on the photo paper according to his ideas. “I photograph light,” said Humbert, commenting on this approach. With his works he was one of the avant-garde representatives of concrete photography, who explored the essence, but also the limits of the medium; her abstract compositions appear as the greatest possible contrast to documentary photography, which remains attached to an external reality.
In addition to arrangements and superimpositions of geometric shapes, pictures were created that seem like reflections of synaesthetic experience: this is where each other meets shimmering movement and pulsating rhythm, one thinks of dance and music, silence and noise. Humbert also linked his interest in “seeing in the back of the visual space” with studies on autogenic training, in which the test subjects described visual experiences. Some pictures are reminiscent of those streaks and spots that we can “observe” with closed eyes.
From somewhere to nowhere
A scene like from a film: as if a director had pushed the traveler into the cutout of the train window with centimeter precision and carefully controlled the lighting from the inside – outside that blue-green artificial light prevails that in Asia from dusk a n everywhere the public space is dimly lit. The young man with the beautiful face seems completely lost in his thoughts. And the epic impression of this picture sets a story in motion in the mind of the beholder: It tells of the eternal coming and going, of the search for happiness and prosperity, which always drives people somewhere. A romanticizing perspective does not do justice to this motive.
Because the picture is part of a comprehensive report with which Andreas Seibert 1970) documented the plight of Chinese migrant workers for years. Seibert, who himself lived in Asia for a long time with his family, has published it under the title “From Somewhere to Nowhere” as a book and exhibition as well as in various newspapers and magazines. Millions of workers travel to their distant homeland in the hinterland, especially for the Chinese New Year celebrations. They are among the weakest, the fewest guns, and at the same time they are the fuel for the engine of globalization. Where will this migrant worker’s journey end?
That last festival of lights
A group of men in sleet: The picture of this gloomy gathering was taken in 1938 in the Jewish quarter of Krakow. Roman Vishniac (1897–1990), a Russian of Jewish descent, was a pioneer of scientific photography and lived in Berlin at the time. Between 1935 and 1939 he traveled several times to Eastern Europe on behalf of a Jewish aid organization, where, despite the ban on photography, he managed to record the miserable living conditions of the Jews in the ghettos and shtetls. Vishniac’s winter scene shows used clothing dealers and their customers. The title of the photograph refers to an invitation to the Hanukkah celebration on the house wall.
It was the last time the Festival of Lights took place in Kazimierz, the Jewish residential area of Krakow. After the attack on Poland in 1939, the National Socialists built a ghetto on the outskirts, surrounded by barbed wire and walls and guarded by the SS. 15,000 Jews were crammed into an area where previously 3,000 people lived. The population of the Krakow ghetto was deported to labor and extermination camps in 1942/43, hundreds of weak people shot in the ghetto itself. Vishniac’s sparse photography seems to indicate the incomprehensible horror in its leaden sadness: defenseless people in the wet and cold in front of a repellent facade and a closed door.
sequins and patina
A sequined headgear, an elaborately tailored dress made of shiny fabric, ruffles and ornaments – the Senegalese woman walking in an upright posture through an empty street exudes the elegance and aura of a model on the catwalk. The desolate surroundings are also photogenic: the wrecked car in the background, the patina of the walls and the reflections on the flooded floor. But what is it like for the young woman to live in a world eroded by water? The picture is part of the photo series «Dakar ne there pas. Dakar se noie »by Flurina Rothenberger 1977). Floodplains on the fringes of Dakar have been wildly populated since the 1970s, there are no urbanization concepts, and everyday life, especially during the rainy season, is shaped by the consequences of floods, overpopulation and the lack of infrastructure.
Even if a single picture cannot convey the complex relationships, an important aspect in dealing with the problem is visualized here: Resilience. Despite the grievances, the young Muslim woman walks with poise through the world marked by disintegration. This contrast is fascinating, and we have the impression that the photographer chose an extraordinarily festive woman for her documentary work. At the same time, the picture irritates us because the fashionable codes we are familiar with do not apply when reading.
A photograph of the production of a photograph reveals the artificiality of the world of images that surround us: On the middle stripe of a huge woman’s head that is supposed to advertise Nescafé at Zurich’s main train station , ka Outside, yes, two hardworking people are retouching disruptive things with fine brush dabs – on the face and on the photograph. Hans Peter Klauser (1910–1989) recorded this double make-up in his own studio at Stadelhoferstrasse 26 in Zurich. Here he made large enlargements for advertising customers from 1957 to 1989 and made a name for himself in this field thanks to his technical flair. Klauser would have preferred to devote himself to reporting – the meagerly paid profession that he learned from his teacher Gotthard Schuh and passionately practiced in the years before and after the Second World War.
The observation of people fascinated him: His folklore book about the Appenzellerland contains impressive pictures as well as his magazine articles about refugee children. But he even managed to get this snapshot from an advertising order: Before the woman froze on the floor into an oversized mask in the station hall, the photographer made the open eye and the fine work the topic – an invitation to take a closer look in order to discover the peculiar in everyday life .
From the first to the second glance
The first look is crucial. We try to classify the other person – according to origin, age, social position, occupation or charisma. This also applies to photographic portraits. But what if the Anha points for classification are reduced to a minimum? Doris Quarella (1944–1998) deliberately “uprooted” the people portrayed in her “Urner Portraits”, removed them from their everyday context. Between March and May 1979, she invited 208 people from the canton of Uri, selected on the basis of statistical data, to her improvised studio in the hall of the Hostellerie “Sternen” in Flüelen.
For the picture against a neutral background, the photographed had to adopt an attitude without relying on biographical information or to be able to rely on professional props or on their familiar surroundings. Facial expressions, hands and clothing become the focus of attention. What do the mischievous smile, the dark-rimmed fingernails, the wool sweater reveal about Ambros Lussmann? What does Franziska Epp’s open, direct view say about her being and her life? Quarella presented the mountain farmer and the woodworker and many others with the name of their occupation, but in their pictures we do not encounter types that can be categorized at first glance, but unique personalities.
ride with doll
A girl on roller skates with a doll’s basket in her hand. What would be a lovely motif for other photographers seems strange and unsettling to Hugo Jaeggi (1936 to 2018). The unusual perspective leaves out the girl’s upper body, instead the focus of the camera is on her legs and feet. The recording lives from the details: the doll’s wreath-like hair; the weapon-like piece of wood in the child’s hand; the feet that seem to be in too small shoes; the ground littered with autumn leaves; the crooked horizon that endangers the child’s steadfastness – whereby the sensuality of the details has a magical power.
Jaeggi was able to select people and objects of the image section and the imprint at the right moment in such a way that they seem removed from the everyday. Each picture is a careful composition. His photographs open a space of meaning beyond the visible and invite associations. This also reflects Jaeggi’s artistic attitude: For him, photography was a means of expression for his inner world of emotions, thoughts and dreams. What Jaeggi sometimes took to extremes in his later works can already be seen in his early photographs. Doesn’t the roller skate girl seem to want to take you into an uncanny realm of fantasy?
Three young men crouch close together: construction workers taking a break in the shade. Someone reads the newspaper, the others read along – or does their gaze wander to the passer-by on the other side of the street? At least this is what the image section suggests: Due to the limited depth of field of the photography, the woman remains only a blurred hint, but the bright sunlight gives her an enigmatic presence. When this snapshot was taken, the press reported on the global economic crisis that began in 1929, but which only hit Switzerland in the following years and plunged many into unemployment. The sensitive observer of the scene, Hans Staub (1894–1990), first tried his hand at a sculptor, then worked as a heliographer and head of Escher Wyss’ in-house print shop before becoming a photo reporter in 1930.
His big topic was the life and work of ordinary people. Staub’s photographic work appeared primarily in the legendary “Zürcher Illustrierte”, which was discontinued in 1941. In doing so, he not only lost his most important client, but also a prominent place as a chronicler of everyday life. In old age he was able to experience how interest in his work was reawakened. With an unerring instinct, he recognized inconspicuous but revealing situations in everyday life – and photographed moods in which the past comes close to us.
Who the photographic work of Ruth Erdt knows, means to know her and her family personally. The two freckled protagonists in front of the mirror wall are their children: Pablo and Eva meet us in countless pictures, including the partner and friends of the photographer, who was born in 1965. They form “The Gang”, as she titled her first monographic publication in 2001. This sequence of portraits, self-portraits and still lifes looks like an intimate diary, but on closer inspection reveals a clever play with small stagings. Pablo’s gaze fixes on the camera lens pointed at him in the mirror.
He participates in the construction of a snapshot, is an accomplice, but he cannot see the refractions and delusions that ultimately make up the attraction of the recording. Eva seems to run a comb through his hair, while in reality she keeps her distance and pauses in movement. The scene is touching because it conveys closeness and distance at the same time, because it simulates impartiality and refers to the subjectivity of perception – and because it makes us think of our own youth or the youth of our children. What remains are fragments of a lost present, mirrored and distorted in the kaleidoscope of memories.
The art and the life
Karl Geiser is one of the most important Swiss sculptors of the 20th century. Less known than his sculptures are his photographs. It is true that he never aspired to a career in photography; but the recordings that he made while traveling or in the studio are impressive testimonies to an artistic vision and can exist as works in their own right. This also applies to the photograph taken around 1932 of Maria Vanz, Geiser’s model for his work on the Bernese “girl group”. In the studio in particular, it often happened that the sculptor obsessively circled and courted his figures with the camera; like a lover he indulged in a frenzy of pictures. In this way, he established an intense relationship with his models, as if he wanted to save them from permanent freezing.
With his spontaneous, technically carefree and extremely sensual way of taking photos, he also emphasized the fragmentary and provisional nature of the emerging group of figures in this case. Fantasy and reality are still in conflict – the sculpture towers over the model like a threatening shadow. Geiser’s studio was not only the center of his love and life; it was also the eerie place where his creations sometimes grew beyond him.
The return of the repressed
The chimney is crooked, the boards are loosening their joints, and scrub pressing from the crumbling facade reveals that no one is taking care of this part of the farm any more. The operation has not yet been given up – the cart filled with manure and welded-in hay bales in the background are evidence of this. But the symptoms of a precarious existence are obvious. The photo by the photographer Jean-Luc Cramatte, born in Porrentruy in 1959, is part of the extensive series “Culs de ferme”, a work about the mostly somewhat hidden backsides of courtyards and stables: non-places where barrels and boxes, broken frames and machine parts, rusty chains and tools, often also a desolate caravan or a sad Töffli were deposited. Cramatte was not interested in documenting the end of the peasant class.
Without criticism and without demonstrative intent, without specifying the location and time, he compiled an extensive inventory of the rural remnants, which he also published as an artist’s book in 2016 – fascinated by the Poetry of accumulation. It looks like a look into the collective unconscious, a counterpart to all the idyllic images with which we like to glorify the rural world. A metaphor for all those areas of our life that we prefer to ignore. Alone, the repressed keeps catching up with us.
crack in the picture
published in 1962 René Burri wrote his large photo essay “The Germans”, in which he impressively captured the social and political climate in Germany at the time. As early as 1959, at the age of 26, he was accepted into the famous Magnum agency, whose members were based on models such as Henri Cartier-Bresson: A good photographer, according to Cartier-Bresson, should be like a hunter for the “decisive moment” Action lurk. However, Burri’s picture of the Frankfurt train station, which made it onto the cover of his book, shows that the Swiss liked to target such dogmas.
Cartier-Bresson certainly paid him credit for this photograph, which he apparently considered to be a decisive moment: a peculiar break runs through the picture and separates people – a disruptive disruption, one might say today. Years later, Burri was still happy about his prank. Because the woman on the left belongs to a previous shot; on the negative strip it lay so perfectly next to the following picture that it resulted in an exciting, almost cinematic scene. So not a decisive moment after all – but a masterpiece that stimulates thought about the isolation of people, the search for orientation and the deep cracks in post-war society.
Gotthard Schuh: «Zöglinge bei Perugia», 1929.
Gotthard Schuh / Photo Foundation Switzerland
«I am aware that my early photograp hien no longer surprise today’s observer. Over time, their content and form have become a matter of course for us. But when they were created, they were revolutionary in both respects », wrote Gotthard Schuh (1897–1969) about his early work. He referred to pictures such as “Zöglinge bei Perugia” from 1929. Even before Schuh turned to photojournalism, he discovered photography as a means of expression around this time, coming from painting. He was interested in clear, unpathetic imagery and the ability to translate everyday situations into an exciting visual experience.
With the camera, Schuh was able to capture those coincidences in life that would otherwise be hidden from the human eye stay. Or make constellations visible that transform the world into an absurd ballet. With the playing pupils it is not so much about a specific place or the document of a specific time. It is the simultaneous gestures and postures, the exciting juxtaposition of the various figures and movements that make photography so attractive. But Gotthard Schuh was only able to become aware of the formal power of the intuitively captured moment when he developed and enlarged the recording in the darkroom.
The wandering gaze
René Mächler (1936–2008) is primarily a representative of so-called concrete photography known: at the end of the 1960s he started working on unobjective To work fine compositions by using light to bring abstract shapes and patterns onto delicate paper. The work “Paysage de femme” already heralds this departure from documentary photography. From 1960 to 1996 Mächler worked as a science photographer at the Institute for Forensic Medicine at the University of Basel and dealt intensively with the human body. “Paysage de femme” can be understood as a reaction to this – a transformation of the female anatomy into a free, sculptural design language. Mächler’s work was published in Italy in 1964 under the title “Paesaggi di donna”; it also stands for a new approach in nude photography.
Despite the modern, object-like alienation, the representations remain extremely sensual. In narrow, precisely selected sections, Mächler scans bulges and indentations, the surface of which, depending on the lighting, presents itself smooth and white against the black background or reveals a structure of pores and hairs, folds and cavities. With the fragmentation and the exaggerated contrasts, the anatomical starting point is obscured. The gaze wanders “over hills, mountains, plains”, as it says in the suggestive text for “Paesaggi di donna”.
Show and hide
The photo of Henriette Grindat is not apparent at first glance. There is a young, almost naked woman who fixes the viewer with half-open mouth and covers her breasts in a playful surprise. There is an older, clothed woman who hides her face behind the speaking slots in the cash register. Both figures are caught between frames, windows and reflections. The photographer captured this confusing situation in a grotesque way: the superimposition of foregrounds and backgrounds creates an absurd juxtaposition of gestures of showing and hiding, of opposing female role models that encounter the voyeur. Because Grindat stands at the entrance to one of those establishments that opened up around New York’s Times Square in the 1960s: porn cinemas, peep shows, go-go bars, sex shops.
At the bottom of the picture a turnstile that the customer passes after he has paid. Behind it a banister that leads down to shabby amusements in the basement. As early as the 1950s, the Lausanne-based photographer, defying a limp caused by polio, devoted herself to traveling and discovering new worlds. The snapshot of Times Square seems to echo the influence of surrealism that Grindat had grappled with in Paris in the 1940s.
The uncertainty afterwards
A barrier made of jagged concrete elements that deny the view of the landscape; a heavy sky, people in white protective suits and bright red vests. Everything in this picture points to a state of emergency, a catastrophe, a GAU. Don’t we know this scenario from Hollywood? It is only when we take a closer look that we are amazed to see the simple instruments that the faceless hooded people carry with them. With sticks they poke in the concrete elements that dominate the picture like the dice of a giant.
What they do can only be discovered in conversation with the Swiss photographer Dominic Nahr, who captured the eerie scene in 2012 near Namie, a small town in the Fukushima prefecture. The coastal town next to the Daiichi reactor complex was badly hit by an earthquake, tsunami and radiation on March 11, 2011. You can see police forces looking for missing persons – one year after the tsunami. We can hardly imagine how agonizing the long uncertainty must have been for the bereaved. Nahr documented the consequences of the accident more comprehensively than any other photographer. He also worked with a 360-degree video camera that puts the viewer in the middle of the restricted area. The production recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
The picture could come from a road movie in which cool cars, passing landscapes and loud music play a central role. Golden light falls on the neck and the flowing hair of the young woman in the passenger seat, while the person at the wheel remains invisible; only her hand, holding a cigarette, protrudes into the picture. Outside the brutal concrete buildings of a big city, overpasses and underpasses for free travel. Inside, the intimacy of a protected space.
The scene recorded by Simone Kappeler promises freedom, adventure and departure into an unknown future. It is a key image from the extensive “America 1981″ series, in which the newly trained photographer found a new, personal visual language. During a month-long road trip from New York to Los Angeles, she discovered the appeal of fleeting photography with cheap plastic cameras. These allowed her to play a cheeky game with random cut-outs and blurring, washed-out colors and uncontrolled exposures. Kappeler’s visual diary also reflects her liberation of sight: “I only wanted to take in what touches me and express my feelings in soft or hard tones and subjective colors. It should also be a journey to myself. ”
Message in double
Barbara Davatz: Serge and Carole, 1982/2014, from the series “As Time Goes By”.
In 1982 Barbara Davatz 1944) photographed twelve couples in Zurich who stand out for their expressive appearance. In the double portrait, the codes that are sent out via clothing, posture and facial expressions are amplified and at the same time varied. They express both individuality and group membership. Davatz portrayed the same people again in 1988, 1997 and most recently in 2014. Most of the time, the partner constellation changed. Serge and Carole are an exception. Their relationship remained constant, even if it is unclear whether it is a friendship or a love affair.
The once androgynous Serge, who wore a new, slightly too large biker jacket in the 1980s, became a man – his style of clothing more subtle, the rebellious in view disappeared. Carole went through a similar metamorphosis. The flow of time can be read from the outer shell of the portrayed, but not from the changed aesthetics of the photography. This seems banal at first, but it is what defines the quality of the work: the composition, lighting and contrast of analog black-and-white photography have defied the ongoing technological change. Only in this way is it possible for us to compare the two images, which are 32 years apart, as if they were scientific drawings of the human species.
Pia Zanetti: Football spectator in the township of Soweto on the outskirts of Johannesburg, 1968
After completing her training in Basel, Pia Zanetti 1943) worked as a freelance photographer in Rome and London. In 1971 she returned to Switzerland, from where she continued her involvement in various magazines, including the NZZ weekend supplement, Du, Die Woche and Das Magazin vom Tagesanzeiger. Pia Zanetti is one of the most prominent Swiss photojournalists of her generation. She produced many reports on social and political issues with her husband, the journalist Gerardo Zanetti.
This photo of a crowd was taken in 1968 as part of a report on apartheid in South Africa. You can see a grandstand in the township of Soweto am Stadt edge of Johannesburg: A juxtaposition of young black men who are watching a football game in a concentrated and mostly amused way. Different emotions speak from their gaze – expectation, joy, but also worry – as if they were not just fixing what is happening on a playing field. The blurred face in the foreground of the picture gives the scene something disturbing and unsettling. Like a mask, like the phantom of a hunted person mounted in the peaceful situation, this face reflects a tense vigilance that reminds one of the harassment of an everyday life marked by racism.
The discovery of slowness
An irritating backdrop, in front of which it is easy to lose the ground under your feet: the silhouettes of the trees stand out in front of you in a surreal way m haze off. Overgrown by ferns, creepers and orchids, they are reminiscent of primeval creatures with shaggy furs and beards. The recording of Guido Baselgia 1953) is part of his latest work cycle, which was created in Ecuador and Peru in 2018 and 2019. After years of intensive examination of barren and empty landscapes – be it in the Engadine, northern Norway or in the Andes – the artist faced abundance: Equipped with a large format camera, he searched the impenetrable thicket of the rainforest for the shapes, structures and lighting moods, that shape this habitat.
Baselgia, who not least made a name for himself as an architectural photographer, plunged into a world one that obeys its own laws. Here you look in vain for an overview: What is above, what is below? How close or how far is the foliage that is lost in the fog? The loss of the usual orientation forced the photographer to slow down – and sharpened his senses for a wondrous wilderness, the destruction of which continues unstoppable.
light and shadow
Faustina Leitão Amorim’s gaze seems to go through the viewer. The wrinkled face looks tired, marked by life and age. “She was half blind and hardly heard anything,” says the Swiss photographer Barnabás Bosshart 1947) about the woman who can be seen in the tough struggle for survival in Maranhão, one of the poorest countries in Brazil. It can be assumed that like most of the residents of the former Portuguese colonial city of Alcântara, she descended from African slaves. Barnabás Bosshart first visited the forgotten town in the north-east of Brazil on his trip to Latin America in 1973 and fell in love with the area – his later adopted home. Soon after, he said goodbye to glamorous fashion photography, in which he had started a promising career.
From 1980 he visited Alcântara once a year and began to portray the place and its inhabitants with the camera. The result is atmospheric landscape shots and sensitive portraits, which are characterized by a sober and at the same time aesthetic imagery. Bosshart’s photographs thrive on strong contrasts and deep black tones, which make the bright areas of the picture shine. The portrait of Faustina Leitão Amorim seems to be formed entirely from light and shadow – a light drawing in the truest sense of the word.
«Interesting pictures», says Lukas Felzmann, «don’t just fall into my mind at any moment. The prerequisite for this is a kind of expanded awareness and a special receptivity. It is a process in which you oscillate back and forth between intuition and reflection. ” Felzmann, born in Zurich in 1959, has lived in California for 40 years. In countless forays into the Central Valley, the 600 km long and 80 km wide Californian long valley, which is one of the most fertile regions on earth.
The photographer is fine His work is not so much a scientific documentation as a slow, intuitive exploration of the interplay between nature and civilization. He looks for visible connections between past and present, between the smallest phenomena and the greatest forces in the universe. His book, published in 2009 Waters in Between is a kind of visual meditation in which there is actually room for everything – even a peacock floating over the roof of a shabby house it seems. The distant antennas are in stark contrast to the graceful silhouette of the hopping bird. An absurd moment, caught seemingly by chance, opens the eyes to the near and fleeting.
Mode in motion
With a sweeping step, this shrill creature pushes a stroller towards a colorless group: N annys pushing their charges through Hyde Park in aprons and hoods. The fiery red mane belongs to Grace Coddington, who was already a picture editor for “British Vogue” at the time. Because the legs of the intended model were not long enough for the photographer Peter Knapp, the ex-model spontaneously asked to appear in front of the camera. She chose the outfit from Electric Fittings, and Knapp staged the bizarre situation, which appeared in British Vogue in June 1971. Born in 1931 in Bäretswil, Peter Knapp went to Paris to study art after completing his training as a graphic designer at the Zurich School of Applied Arts, where he made a name for himself as a fashion photographer.
As artistic director, he shaped the image of «Elle» in the 1960s and 1970s. Knapp recognized the future of the prêt-à-porter collections, he brought fashion onto the street – and set it in motion. He also translated the dynamics of his own photographic compositions into the layout of the magazine. In addition to the success in the Mo dewelt devoted himself to Peter Knapp’s freer, more conceptual work. In 2018, the Fotostiftung was allowed to add a substantial number of this important Swiss photographer to its collection.
The intimate space
René Groebli’s second photo book “The Eye of Love”, published in 1954, was not well received in conservative Switzerland in the 1950s, but meanwhile it has become an indispensable part of the history of photography. The illustrated book reads like a poetic declaration of love to his wife Rita. The recordings, taken on their honeymoon in France, seem to capture a day in the life of the newlyweds. The intimate space of the hotel room is seldom left. Instead, the eye of the camera lingers on the beloved or on the trail of a night spent together.
The photographer and husband remain – with a few exceptions – invisible. Nevertheless, he always directs: through his gaze, which does not exhibit the female body, but rather playfully circles around with the camera. Rita appears as a silhouette in the backlight, emerges from the twilight of the hotel room or hides in the slight motion blur of the recordings. A gentle melancholy mingles with the intimacy and sensuality. The erotic undertone as well as the radical subjectivity of photography make “The Eye of Love” an outstanding work with which Groebli set new standards in the field of picture narration.
A bicycle crosses the restricted area on the designated cycle path. If it were missing, it would be difficult to recognize the area as a crossroads and to assess its proportions. But as it is, the cyclist gives the picture depth with his shadow: the two-dimensional hatching becomes urban space.
The recording comes from an early Berlin report by Rudolf Lichtsteiner. With the creation of his own imagery, the autodidact, who was born in Winterthur in 1938, said goodbye to documentary photography in the early 1960s. Lichtsteiner’s photography also refers to his later work: the cyclist seems removed from the real world through the choice of detail and perspective. In addition, there is coincidence, which is partly responsible for this quiet, surreal moment. In later works Rudolf Lichtsteiner used multiple exposures or photograms, i.e. experimental varieties of photography, to challenge our viewing habits.
The effect of the picture is based on the strong formal composition; it works independently of contextual information about the person depicted, the location or the date. But if you know that it was built only a few weeks before the wall was built, you are tempted to read it as a symbol for the divided city.
Show and hide
In the mid-1970s, a young artist gave herself the programmatic name «Manon». She mixed up the Zurich art scene with her appearances as femme fatale, with provocative performances and installations, exhibited men in a shop window or presented her bedroom overflowing with erotic décor as a salmon-colored boudoir in a gallery.
During her Parisian years, Manon concentrated on photographic self-staging. The present picture from the series “La dame au crâne rasé” combines two images that seem to merge into one another. A bare back peels out of the darkness – or does this androgynous phantom flee from the light? The shaved head emphasizes the sculptural aspect; the face is turned to one side, but alienated by a brightly reflective mask. Here light and shadow wrestle with each other: showing and hiding. Above the added backdrop of gloomy city roofs, the view is caught by a cloud that does not manage to cover the sun.
To this day, Manon deals with beauty and transience in her work – again and again including self-portrayals. On the occasion of her eightieth birthday in 2020, the artist will be honored with exhibitions in Zofingen, Paris and Winterthur.
lost in oneself
Manuel Bauer: The Dalai Lama in retreat, Dharamsala, 2004.
Manuel Bauer / Fotostiftung Schweiz
How many minutes can there be between these two portraits of the 14th Dalai Lama? Is the posture of the head still the same? Are there any other wrinkles on the eyelids? When meditating, time seems to have vanished. Outwardly, there are hardly any changes to be seen in the self-absorbed person. And yet the short duration might be enough for him to move mountains.
Manuel Bauer, the Swiss photographer born in 1966, to whom these portraits are to be owed, knows how to combine the visible and the invisible. When he turned to the spiritual leader of the Tibetans in Dharamsala on August 16, 2004, he did not want to capture external characteristics, but rather to make the spiritual power that emanates from the Dalai Lama tangible. The representation of the highest, completely inwardly directed concentration shows us a man who is present and absent at the same time.
These intimate images are based on deep trust: Wi e hardly any other photographer has access to the closest circle around the Dalai Lama, whose friendship he has built through years of commitment to the cause of the Tibetans. Only in this way was it possible for His Holiness to have himself photographed by him in the most private situation.
War without war
A peaceful heaven with sheep Fchenwolken hangs over a puzzling scene: In the background there are tanks in front of an army tent, in front a manned toy tank drives head-on towards the photographer. With his pink mirrored sunglasses, the driver exudes a coolness that is embarrassing. Meinrad Schade is not a war photographer. Nevertheless, the war is thematically the focus of his free work.
This picture was taken in Beltring, where around 100,000 people meet every year for a huge “Living History” event. So-called “re-enactors” reenact scenes from the great wars at this “War and Peace Show” – on the grounds that they made history accessible to others and thus heightened awareness of the horrors of war. Classic war photography uses a similar line of argument: pointing to deter. Meinrad Schade chooses a different strategy.
It illuminates the sidelines on which war and Peace intertwine ominously and the fascination for the martial is played down under the guise of enlightenment. The protagonist of the picture symbolizes at least a ridiculous potency with his upright tank cannon, and Schade’s sarcasm is evident.
A back like a battlefield – wounded, scorched, scarred . «One of the few surviving witnesses of August 6, 1945 in Hiroshima», wrote the Swiss Magnum photographer Werner Bischof (1916–1954) about his 1951 photograph. “Barely a mile from the center of the explosion, he tried to escape into a doorway and was burned by radioactive rays.” After various assignments in the Korean War, which made him doubt the meaning of his profession, Bischof was looking for a way out of the fast-paced photojournalism in Japan at that time. His pictures became calmer, more meditative, more subjective.
The photograph of the injured back is indicative of Bishop’s desire for deepening, his disgust for photographs that just scream for attention. Instead of a personal victim story, he created a manifesto against the war. The body presents itself like a memorial – a carefully designed sculpture, recorded in grazing light that relentlessly illuminates the injuries. Even though the man turns his face away, it is not difficult to identify with him. His scars may have also reminded the photographer of his own vulnerability.
look out – look in
Robert Frank, born in Zurich in 1924, is one of the most influential photographers of the 20th year hundred. His book «Les Américains», a critical portrait of the USA, first published in 1958, opened the eyes of generations of photographers – not least because of the raw, spontaneous and radically subjective style with which he revolutionized photography in the post-war period.
After his death last Monday the world press has once more honored his pictures of America as icons. Frank didn’t just invent his style on a road trip through the United States. As early as 1949, on the occasion of a rural community in Hundwil, he anticipated what would later become the signature of his book on America: The look at the inconspicuous, snapshot-like blurring or cut faces can certainly help to say “something true”.
«I keep taking the same pictures. I always try to see the inside outside. I’m trying to say something that’s true. But maybe nothing is really true. Apart from what is out there – and what is out there, is constantly changing. ” Look out – look inside: Could there be a better example of Frank’s photographic dialectic than the Hundwil pub scene?
Otto Pfenniger (1919-2004) was not daring ner photo reporter, but a careful craftsman and sensitive observer of the everyday. Before he became self-employed in 1959 and opened a shop in Zurich, he had gained experience in various photo studios, including as head of the laboratory at the renowned Eidenbenz studio in Basel. Photoglob-Wehrli, a subsidiary of Orell Füssli AG specializing in postcards, provided Pfenniger with numerous views of Swiss landscapes. The passionate mountaineer also dealt with the alpine world photographically. First of all, he wanted to stand out from the average through unconventional picture compositions. He mastered the game with backlighting and, as in this example, experimented with unusual perspectives: En miniature and lost at the edge of the picture, the silhouettes of the ski tourers move over a plane that seems to tilt into the vertical. There is no horizon to hold the eye, no summit that reveals a destination – in this icy desert the small caravan looks like a pilgrimage; one is tempted to read the scene, which is difficult to locate, as a symbol. From today’s perspective, the finely structured surface of the glacier that breaks up in places is reminiscent of the battered skin of a gigantic, primeval creature
Insects in sight
Kurt Caviezel: Insect 14, 2009.
Kurt Caviezel / Fotostiftung Schweiz
Netcam photographer Kurt Caviezel’s eyes are (almost) everywhere. Around 20,000 cameras across the globe provide him with real-time recordings on his screen. From his studio in Zurich he goes on trips with a click of the mouse and fishes fleeting moments from the stream of images that the private and public cameras he controls feed into the network. But the artist, born in Chur in 1964, does not do this to collect information or to monitor other people. Rather, he is interested in pictures that were actually not intended by anyone.
In addition to image disturbances, unintentional selfies or puzzling messages to the cyber community, there are also motifs in which nature reports back. For example, when a bird misuses the camera as a landing site and – instead of the ski slope – its plumage appears in front of the lens. Or when insects seize a device high above the picturesque market square of a small town, not quite in the spirit of the local tourism organization. Kurt Caviezel today has an archive of around four million Netcam images: an inexhaustible reservoir for his artistic work, with which he creates a bizarre, alien kaleidoscope of our time.
Hodler’s last day
Ferdinand Hodler is one of the most photographed Swiss artists of his time. He liked to put himself in the limelight – preferably in front of the camera of Gertrud Dübi-Müller (1888–1980). The young woman from Solothurn, who would go down in history as an important art collector, was not only a model for him, but also a beloved friend. From 1911 to 1918 she photographed him over 100 times. In an era when representative portraits were still part of the domain of professional studio photography, the autodidact took spontaneous snapshots, especially outdoors.
Again and again she knew how to animate Hodler to small appearances and jokes. The immediacy and freshness of her pictures seem modern: with Gertrud Müller – at the time still unmarried – the famous painter also showed his unpretentious and vulnerable side, cocky or lost in thought. On May 18, 1918, Gertrud accompanied her boyfriend on a walk on Lake Geneva, together with his wife Berthe and his daughter Paulette. Berthe looks into the distance, the child is preoccupied with itself. Only the artist, an invisible burden on his neck, looks questioningly into the camera. What is he seeing? The following day, Hodler is dead.
Enchanted parking space
After this Emil Schulthess (1913–1996) made a name for himself primarily as a graphic artist in the 1930s, the Zurich-born artist increasingly appeared as a photographer and designer of monumental illustrated books in the post-war period. The exploration of distant continents and the urge to depict the wonders of nature in memorable images run through his entire work. Schulthess first traveled extensively in the 1950s to Africa and the USA, later followed by destinations in Asia and South America as well as participating in an expedition of the US Navy to the Antarctic.
His photo books about those who traveled Areas became international bestsellers. In addition, Schulthess was a pioneer of color photography who spared no effort to produce high-quality color photos perfectly in terms of printing technology. This photograph of a second-hand car market in Detroit, taken in 1953 during his trip to the USA, conveys an almost solemn atmosphere: the fairy lights are reflected in the polished bodies and enchant the used cars – most of them no more than five years old. The picture stands for a nation of rapid consumption and for a time in which broad strata of the population were able to fulfill their dream of unlimited mobility for the first time.
Monique Jacot: Maternité de Morges, 1980.
Monique Jacot / Fotostiftung Schweiz
Monique Jacot , Born in Neuchâtel in 1934 ren, has repeatedly dealt with female living environments. Her personal interest and feeling for feminist perspectives probably helped her assert herself in male-dominated photojournalism. In the 1980s and 1990s she documented the everyday life of women farmers and factory workers and accompanied the women’s demonstrations on the occasion of Christiane Brunner’s defeat in the elections. When she was commissioned by the editorial staff to photograph «women’s issues», she also accepted this as the challenge of delivering something other than ordinary reportage images.
Something like the magazine «L’Illustré »Pictures ordered for a report on new antenatal services in Morges Hospital: At first glance, the bathers can hardly be identified as pregnant women, and the swimming boards are also hidden. The edge of the pool and the reflection of the window front only hint at the surroundings of the indoor pool. Detached from their context, the bodies transform into seemingly weightless floating figures of black and white ornament. This turn into the melancholy-poetic is typical of the photographer, who always brought her subjective style into her commissioned work and thus repeatedly created images that outlast the current situation.
Strei Trains through New York
Nicolas Faure, born in 1949, became known for unconventional Switzerland pictures: his large-format photographs of motorway landscapes, for example, radically broke with the tradition of idyllic calendar photography that had shaped the representation of Switzerland for so long. What is less well known is that the autodidact from Geneva had already devoted himself entirely to color in the late 1970s – at a time when black and white photography was still considered to be artistically more valuable. At that time Faure was living in New York and developed his own photographic signature on his forays through the city.
His interest was in everyday urban life, in which bizarre opposites meet . The erotically charged staging of the two bathing beauties on the shabby pier on the Hudson River combines glamor and shabbiness. As an observer of this photo shoot, Nicolas Faure also addresses exhibitionism and voyeurism as the main features of the medium of photography. For his anecdotal and lifelike street photography, color was an indispensable stylistic device. He later published a selection of his photos in the book “Goodbye Manhattan” – an exciting testimony to the cultural change that was only to really capture the world of photography in the following decade and to make color photography suitable for museums.
Note: This article have been indexed to our site. We do not claim legitimacy, ownership or copyright of any of the content above. To see the article at original source Click Here