September 20 – December 18, 2002
Fairchild Gallery

From the Norton Museum of Art
Organized by the Norton Museum of Art

The Mead Art Museum of Amherst College hosts the traveling exhibition organized by the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Fl. Some 150 German and Central European photographs were selected from the extensive collection of 680 prints given by Baroness Jeane von Oppenheim in 1998. This exhibition traces influential photographic movements from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day. Featured are works by several prominent pre-war European photographers published in Alfred Stieglitz’s groundbreaking magazine, Camerawork; the modernist photographers working in Germany and other parts of Europe between the wars; an important circle of innovative post-war photographers; as well as the avant-garde generation of German photographers that has emerged in recent years. These works depict various subjects including portraits, nature studies, landscapes, cityscapes, architectural constructions, still lifes and abstraction.

Bauhaus artists coming to prominence just after the First World War explored innovative and often iconoclastic processes such as photogram exposures, collage effects, photomontage techniques and abstracted imagery. These revolutionary directions appear in photographs made by Lucia Moholy, Kattina Both and Lotte Jacobi.

Fascinated with plant life, Ernst Fuhrmann did not photograph himself, but his close friends Albert Renger-Patzsch and Lotte Jacobi operated the camera while Fuhrmann closely supervised. Some of these collaborations have the look of scientific documentation while others take on more fanciful appearances. August Sander’s “portrait types” that document a range of German citizenry are much better known than the landscape studies of Cologne environs that he began producing when socially charged imagery was curtailed by the Nazi regime. The interwar period is also exemplified by photographs made by André Kertsz, Albert Renger-Patzsch, Florence Henri, Anton Stankowski, Alexander Rodchenko and Lotte Sandau.

Following the Second World War, the Neue Sachlichkeit or New Vision artists emphasized contemporary subject matter and the technical capabilities of the camera. In the ’60s and ’70s, Bernd and Hilla Becher advanced this objective tradition by repetitively recording factory buildings and mechanical structures, symbols of an industrial landscape marginalized in a world of rapidly advancing technology and emerging corporate economies. Their contemporary, Sigmar Polke, has utilized photography as a primary source of imagery for large-scale, media-influenced paintings. Among the contemporary photographers, featured artists include Candida Höfer, Jörg Sasse, Ute Lindner and Jürgen Klauke.

Baroness Jeane von Oppenheim, depicted in the exhibition by Robert Mapplethorpe, is an American collector who lives in Cologne, Germany and Palm Beach, Fl. Born in New York City and trained in art history at Connecticut College, she married Baron Alfred von Oppenheim in 1962. By 1968 she began to collect photography and developed a discriminating expertise in European photography of the 20th century. Von Oppenheim started the photography department of the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne, and has given part of her collection to the adjoining Museum Ludwig. A prominent figure in the vibrant art world of Germany, she serves as a trustee for the Museum Ludwig, the Wallraf-Richartz Museum and the Kunstverein.

The current exhibition opened at the Museum für Angewandte Kunst Köln and has been on view at the Norton Museum of Art (West Palm Beach, Fl.), The Columbus Museum of Art (Columbus, Ohio) and The Frye Art Museum (Seattle, Wash).

The Mead Art Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and until 9 p.m. on Thursdays. Admission and parking are free. For information call 413/542-2335 or consult the Website at http://www.amherst.edu/mead . The presentation of this exhibition at the Mead Art Museum is generously supported by the David W. Mesker (Class of 1953) Fund and the Templeton Photography Fund. Related cultural events include a German Film Series, sponsored in conjunction with the Amherst College Department of German.