21 December 2016 until 17 April 2017
Photography at the MKG

ReVision. Photography at the MKG is the first exhibition to offer an overview of the exceptional holdings of the Photography and New Media Collection at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG), which spans the period from the early days of photography to the present and currently comprises around 75,000 exhibits. As far back as the late nineteenth century, the MKG was the first museum in Germany to open its doors to the medium of photography. In doing so, it helped break new ground: it purchased photographs as a medium in their own right, established photography as a focus of the collection, and began presenting it in exhibitions in 1911. Since those days, the MKG has been the only museum in Germany to add continually to its photo collection. ReVision is the result of a review of the holdings and a readjustment of perspective. In the exhibition, the MKG takes another look – and in some cases the first look ever – at its photographic works, with a special emphasis on the collection’s diversity and heterogeneity as well as the various functions of the medium, both artistic and non-artistic. It spotlights the canonical, unknown and rediscovered, incuding photography as historical document, scientific aid and artistic work. Divided into five sections, the exhibition approaches photography from different perspectives and sheds light on individual focuses of the collection: on identity-establishing portraits, supposedly objective reproductions, dedicated photojournalistic reports for the press, a style known as pictorialism that sought to compete with painting, and abstract photography conceived as an autonomous art form. Emerging from the nineteenth century onward, all these many facets of photography join to document how changes in the medium have influenced human communication while at the same time contemplating and evaluating the images that surround us on an everyday basis. More than 200 exhibits are on show, among them albumin prints, c-prints, daguerreotypes, photochromic prints, glass negatives, rubber prints, heliographic prints, kalotypes, oil, pigment, platinic and gelatine silver prints. An extensive collection catalogue accompanies the exhibition providing insights into one of Germany’s most prominent museum photography collections.

Ill.: Yutaka Takanashi, from the series Toshi-e (Towards the City), 1968, gelatin silver print, 24,4 x 36,4 cm, © Yutaka Takanashi