artists & participants
Kicken Berlin’s fall exhibition, entitled Highlights, shows a selection of iconic photographs of the twentieth century in a dialogue of forms and motifs.
The camera makes visible things otherwise hidden to the human eye. A close-up of a butterfly wing and split-second shots of seagulls in flight open up fascinating perspectives into the nature of things. Organic forms and serial structures inspired the artists of Neues Sehen and Neue Sachlichkeit, such as László Moholy-Nagy, Horacio Coppola and Ernst Fuhrmann’s Folkwang-Auriga Verlag. Modernism’s new modes of seeing led to the abstractions in Moholy-Nagy’s and Marta Hoepffner’s photograms, echos of which can be heard in Sigmar Polke’s playful photographic explorations of the world as well. The Bauhaus was a hotbed of the Neues Sehen movement, unifying the various experimental perspectives of Gertrud Arndt, Erich Collein and Umbo, among others. This visual language — of cropping and alienation — continues to influence artists today, such as in the work of Jitka Hanzlová.
A selection of portraits distills the history of photography in the twentieth century. Looking modernism in the face is taken literally here, such as in the intense portrait of painter Otto Dix by Hugo Erfurth, rendered in the finest detail. Helmar Lerski modelled the protagonists in Köpfe des Alltags (Everyday Heads) with light like sculptures, and Cologne artist Heinrich Hoerle looks out at us from an image from August Sander’s major typological social study, Menschen des 20. Jahrhundert (People of the Twentieth Century). Moholy-Nagy’s portrait of Ellen Frank and Ruth mit Maske (Ruth with Mask) by Umbo are two icons of Neues Sehen. Aenne Biermann and Erwin Blumenfeld, Grit Kallin-Fischer, Heinrich Kühn, Werner Rohde and Otto Steinert round out the survey. Works by Heinrich Riebesehl and Sibylle Bergemann extend the shows reach into the 1970s.