27 January until 2 July 2017
Highway to the Modern World
The Photography Department in Context

As part of the series “The Photography Department in Context” the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG) is presenting a new show that sheds light on creative and thematic strategies in postwar photography. The exhibition revolves around Heinz Hajek-Halke’s 1951 photograph City by Night. The nocturnal street scene, in which the traces left by car headlights intermingle with a grid of geometric shapes, evokes the spirit of optimism and experimentation that prevailed in the postwar era, in a work that vividly combines different stylistic traditions. Typical of the period, for example, were experiments using light as a way to depict speed and the passing of time – within a medium whose central technology involves holding fast a moment in time. Recurring motifs are city life, road traffic, and the highway, which in the 1950s still stood for the unwavering path of progress. A focused look at photographic works created during this period also reveals the considerable influence of Subjective Photography, which presumes a personal point of view on the part of the photographer that dictates the images’ style, composition, and choice of subject. On view are some 30 works from the holdings of the MKG by photographers including Heinz Hajek-Halke (1898–1983), Kōrō Honjō (1907-1995), Peter Keetman (1916-2005), Guido Mangold (b. 1934), Max Scheler (1928-2003), and Otto Steinert (1915-1978).

Ill.: Otto Steinert, Lichtschrift – Lampen der Place de la Concorde, 1952, gelatin silver print, 30 x 40,5 cm, © Estate Otto Steinert, Museum Folkwang, Essen