5 German Photographers Who Defined the 20th Century

 

Children and Children's Playgrounds, Eight boys Practicing a Handstand by Heinrich Zille. Image from images.zeno.org
“Children and Children’s Playgrounds, Eight boys Practicing a Handstand” by Heinrich Zille. Image from images.zeno.org

 

Germany’s modern period is underscored by the Third Reich and the Second World War. From the propaganda to the widespread trauma, the country’s photographers were documenting and producing astonishing images of life during the war and the promise of a more peaceful postwar society. Many of these images live in the Berlinische Galerie’s vaults and are now on show as part of the European Month of Photography. We take a look at five seminal German photographers who defined the country’s tumultuous journey through the 20th century.

 

 

Käthe Kruse by Steffi Brandl. Images from digiporta.net
Käthe Kruse by Steffi Brandl. Images from digiporta.net

Steffi Brandl

Portrait photographer Steffi Brandl shot Weimar stars of the Twenties and Thirties. Brandl was one of many women photographers who fled Europe to escape the Nazis and their terrorising mission. Researcher Elke Tesch has spent the past few years piecing together Brandl’s career, a project which continues to surface new images, leading him to discover exciting new source material from various magazines and archives.

 

 

Penicillin-Kristalle by Fritz Brill. Image from sammlungonline.de and 1904-1987: Photograph Color-in-Walzstuh by Fritz Brill. Image from picclick.de
Penicillin-Kristalle by Fritz Brill. Image from sammlungonline.de and 1904-1987: Photograph Color-in-Walzstuh by Fritz Brill. Image from picclick.de

Fritz Brill

Fritz Brill was tutored by Bauhaus teacher Johannes Itten and began his career as a commercial artist. Together with his wife Hedwig Bornemann, he founded a studio for advertising design in Berlin, despite rudimentary equipment and very little funds. In 1950, Brill deepened his research to create “Photo Analysis”, a project which consisted of micro, macro, high-speed photography and cinematography. His methodological approach also encompassed more scientific inquiries that were elaborate experiments in which to “achieve the impossible”.

 

 

Experimental Photography by Heinz Hajek-Halke. Images from monovisions.com
Experimental Photography by Heinz Hajek-Halke. Images from monovisions.com

Heinz Hajek-Halke

Hajek-Halke is renowned for his sensational colour photomontages. An autodidact who worked throughout 1920s Berlin, his unconventional nude studies demonstrate the scale of his pioneering practice. Working under the shadow of National Socialism, the anarchic Hajek-Halke left Berlin for Lake Constance where he continued to study industrial and aerial photography. Though many of his photographs remain unpublished, Hajek-Halke was a leading figure of the post war Subjective Photography movement.

 

 

Marlene Dietrich by Erich Salomon. Image from berlinischegalerie.de
Marlene Dietrich by Erich Salomon. Image from berlinischegalerie.de

Erich Salomon

The Berliner Zeitung helped launch Eric Salomon’s career in 1928, when the newspaper published his images documenting a famous murder trial. Salomon spent much of the 1930s in the United States, photographing Marlene Dietrich and other luminaries for his book “Berühmte Zeitgenossen in Unbewachten Augenblicken (Famous Contemporaries in Unguarded Moments)”. Salomon was the original “candid camera” photographer, famed for his ability to infiltrate VIP events and spontaneously capture members of high society.

 

 

Heinrich Zille "Alt Berlin", circa 1900. Image from commons.wikimedia.org
Heinrich Zille “Alt Berlin”, circa 1900. Image from commons.wikimedia.org

Heinrich Zille

It was the writer Kurt Tucholsky who said that nineteenth-century street photographer Heinrich Zille “embodies the purest incarnation of Berlin”. Although Zille captured folk festivals and the studios of artists Max Liebermann, August Gaul and Käthe Kollwitz, he was mostly interested in documenting the working class and those from marginalized groups. His photographs are now housed in collections around the world including the Heinrich Zille Museum in Berlin.

 

Photography in Berlin 1900-1980” is on display at Berlin’s Berlinische Galerie until 31 October 2016

 

 

 

ITEM m6 Black by Sven Marquardt. Image from dazeddigital.com
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