240111: Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden Art of Photography – Emancipation of a medium

Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden Art of Photography – Emancipation of a medium 04.12.10 – 07.03.11 „... and absolutely reaches the effect of a painting“ or how photography made it to the museum In 1899, when Max Lehrs, the renowned graphic print expert and director of the Dresdner Kupferstich-Kabinett, described one of Karl Greger’s photos as „the dust cloud (above the herd of sheep heading homewards) is eminently perceived in an artistic way and reaches the effect of a painting.” (Max Lehrs, Dresdner Anzeiger, October 1899). He was reminded of the landscape paintings of the Worpswede Artist Community or the French Impressionists, Degas’ nude women or Böcklin’s cypresses. Photography was to find its way into the museums measured by the criteria of painting and not as an independent medium. Photography – a new form of art or only a reproduction technique serving the purposes of science and art? At the end of the 19th century, Max Lehrs contributed decisively to the acceptance of photography as an artistic image media. The specialist for etchings was also a devotee of contemporary art: Koloman Moser, Emil Orlik, Max Klinger, Hans Thoma were welcome guests at his house and he supported them by buying their work. Lehrs’ devotion and his conviction that photography was “the natural continuation of the portrait collection (at the Kupferstich Kabinett), made the Dresdner collection to one of the first museums that displayed and acquired photographs – or received them as gifts. By 1914, more than 100 photographs by international amateurs and professional photographers were given to the museum as a gift as a result of Lehrs’ clever inquiries. In the 1910’s Lehr got involved in the development of photography and bought works by the Scottish pioneers David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, while in the 20’s his successor, Kurt Zoege von Manteuffel, focused on the Dresdner production. The exhibition “The Art of Photography. Emancipation of a medium” devotes itself to the early collections – and simultaneously leads to the history of reception of this genre in its attempt to find acceptance. The first half of the exhibition refers to Max Lehrs’ first art photo exhibition in 1899. Lehr staged photography according to criteria more common to paintings; he arranged the presentation of 76 photographs in line with traditional topics such as portrait, landscape, atmospheric pictures, genre, animals, and “gum print masters”. The latter achieving the highest possible softness of contours – atmospherically loosened landscapes, portraits and experimented with the manipulation of the prints (e.g. the exhibition poster by Heinrich Kühn). Even today, to so-called Pictoralists are considered to be the founders of art photography in the late 19th century. This is contrasted by the second part of the exhibition: photo art of the 1920 and 30s was an experimental field of “new vision”. Unusual perspectives, snapshots, multiple exposures, sharpness and clarity determined the aesthetics of the Dresdner photo studio. Kurt Zoege von Manteuffel, director of the Kupferstich Kabinett as of 1923, concentrated on dance photography and theater portraits. In the 1920s, photography gradually found acceptance as a medium of art. The “history of photography” at the Dresdner Kupferstich Kabinett is (re)constructed as the continuous development ranging from the fight for acceptance, the discovery of its own history, to the emancipation and development of a new form of expression. By Alexandra Matzner Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden 01067 Dresden, Taschenberg 2 Tel: +49 (0) 351 49 14 2000 Fax: +49 (0) 351 49 14 2001 Email: info@skd-dresden.de http://www.skd.museum Opening hours: Mon –Fri: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sat, Sun 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
01067 Dresden, Taschenberg 2
Tel: +49 - (0)351 - 49 14 2000, Fax: +49 - (0)351 - 49 14 2001
Email: info@skd-dresden.de
Öffnungszeiten: Mo - Fr 08.00 - 18.00, Sa, So 10.00 - 18.00

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