Werner Bischof. Standpunkt. Hommage zum 100. Geburtstag.
Swiss Magnum photographer Werner Bischof worked as a photojournalist for the high-circulation magazines “Life” and “Picture Post.” Prior to his untimely death in 1954 he created a multifaceted oeuvre within the span of but a few years. April 2016 marked the 100th anniversary of his birth, and the exhibition at the Kunstfoyer is an homage to his life’s work. Around 220 vintage prints and documents from the Werner Bischof Estate provide a comprehensive overview of his studio work, his photographs of post World War II Europe, his feature stories on Asia, and his photographs taken in the USA and South America. The contact sheets and original prints from the estate will be on exhibition for the first time. With this exhibition and the publications that accompany it, we are pleased to present an in-depth look at the photographer’s work and views.
The exhibition Werner Bischof. Standpunkt was curated by Marco Bischof and Isabel Siben for the Kunstfoyer Munich. For the Werner Bischof Estate it represents the most significant exhibition to date, and it also represents the first time that Bischof’s vintage prints have ever been exhibited. The exhibition had its debut at the Musée d´Elysée, Lausanne, in early 2016 and further international stops are in the planning.
Early on, Werner Bischof (1916 –1954) made a name for himself as a studio and commercial photographer with his fascinating compositions of light and shadow. In the wake of the Second World War, he documented the devastation in Europe, the streams of refugees, and displaced persons. His photographs illustrate the suffering and destruction wrought by the war. His motto was: “It isn’t a matter of transforming photography into art in the bygone sense. What matters is the deep social responsibility of the photographer who employs the elementary photographic means at his disposal to perform a job that cannot be done by any other means.”
In this spirit Bischof created images that, although they show bitter poverty and hardship, still document the inner strength and willpower of the people they portray. The superficiality and sensation mongering of the editorial business were repulsive to him; nevertheless he was usually assigned to cover troubled regions. During his brief career, Werner Bischof set new standards of quality and ethics in photography. In his person, aesthetic sense, elementary form-giving power, and human commitment combined together to form an inner unity: “I felt driven to become acquainted with the true face of the world. Our good, satiated life caused many to lose sight of the colossal privation outside our borders.”
The exhibition is arranged in chapters titled "Studio," " Post-1945 Europe," "Asia," "Exhibition 1953," and "USA / South America."
The exhibition is accompanied by the lavishly illustrated book “Werner Bischof. Standpunkt” published by Verlag Scheidegger & Spiess. Price: 77.- €