Wilhelm Schürmann: Schräges Fenster, 15.4.1980, Dortmund-Steinhammerstr. from the project: Wegweiser zum Glück. Bilder einer Straße 1979-1981 © Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur, Köln 2
Wilhelm Schürmann (b. 1946) now an internationally acknowledged collector and curator of contemporary art, spent his childhood and youth in the Steinhammerstrasse in Dortmund, Germany.
Between 1979 and 1981 he returned to this familiar place numerous times, capturing it in over two thousand black-and-white negatives in a very straightforward way, yet at the same time full of enthusiasm for the everyday life he encountered there, which had hardly changed over time.
He enlarged what he considered to be the most important motifs and assembled them into a series of more than 180 original prints made by hand: different views of the street, the façades of typical houses and apartment buildings, neighborhoods, businesses of all kinds, from the dry cleaner’s to the hairdresser’s - from the inside and the outside, apartments, furniture, furnishing details such as stereo equipment, plants, and decorative still lifes; furthermore, portraits of the residents he met, and in a broader radius gardens, flowerbeds and back courtyards, a train compound and adjacent wasteland.
Wilhelm Schürmann: Lotto-Werbung, 1980, Dortmund-Steinhammerstr.
from the project: Roadmaps to Happiness. Pictures of a Street 1979-1981 © Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur, Köln 2012
Roadmaps to Happiness: Pictures of a Street is a striking portrait of a confined place, a space of experience that is prototypical for an era in the Ruhr region in Germany on the one hand, while on the other giving an account of how people carve out both their private and public environment, their coexistence, as well as telling their life stories.
In this series of photographs, Schürmann describes not only his early personal living environment, but above all furnishes remarkable images from a time in which the repercussions of the postwar period in Germany were far more apparent, the illusions associated with the Wirtschaftswunder were blanketed by a phase of disillusionment, but in which a personal lifestyle prevailed in which people had set themselves up almost in the truest sense of the word - a climate that ultimately had a determining influence on the life of the following generations, be it due to a conformist or a critical stance.
Artist’s tour with Wilhelm Schürmann (in German) on Saturday 2 June at 3 pm.
The exhibition Petra Wittmar: Medebach 2009–2011 is being accompanied by a bilingual publication (Steidl Verlag Göttingen) including a conversation between Petra Wittmar and Gabriele Conrath-Scholl. The Kunststiftung NRW generously supported the publication.
The picture series Medebach 2009–2011 by Petra Wittmar deals with the small town in the Hochsauerland where she was born and will be shown in a presentation of ca. 40 colour photographs.
What the photographer has produced is a multifaceted, multilayered panorama that is in no way atypical of numerous small towns and settlements scattered among Germany’s large urban catchment centers. The photographs reveal the widespread competition with circumstances in metropolitan areas as well as the unbroken attraction of heaven and earth, vast fields, meadows, and vegetational diversity. While nature is never uninterrupted - it is often dissected by roads, buildings, or functional structures - in many cases it is associated with the expression of a striking timelessness and has a poetic dimension.
This work is a resumption of the Medebach 1979–1983 project, which was presented for the first time in 2007 at Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur in Cologne. A major share of these photographs is part of the institution’s permanent collection.
Petra Wittmar, Medebach 2009- 2011 © Petra Wittmar
While in the early black-and-white pictures of Medebach the photographer was concerned with creating an unsentimental, unadorned image of the town, the current photographs are evidence of an even greater distance, perhaps a greater degree of purism. In contrast to the previous series, Wittmar avoids views into the immediate private sphere of Medebach residents; the entire body of works is borne by a relatively constant, homogenous distance to the subject matter. “Home” or where one was once at home apparently no longer comprises an obvious reference. Petra Wittmar’s pictorial interest is now focused on the town with its individual characteristics and its natural juxtaposition of buildings, contrasting styles, and material from different periods; of the deliberate and the coincidental, and the extensive regional surroundings.
Artist’s tour with Petra Wittmar (in German) on Saturday 5 May at 3 pm.
August Sander | New Arrivals. A Look at the Collection
In the two smaller exhibition rooms Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur is presenting a selection of new acquisitions from the oeuvre of August Sander (1876–1964). Over the years, these could be purchased using in-house funding as well as with the kind support of the Sparkasse KölnBonn and the Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Photographischen Sammlung der SK Stiftung Kultur, Köln e.V. The presentation also comprises permanent loans and generous donations.
For example, several important photographs could be secured for the collection from the project People of the 20th Century. Among these is a portrait of Detmar Heinrich Sarnetzki made in 1926, which Sander included in his publication Face of Our Time as early as 1929. Another portrait from 1953 as well as a close-up of Sarnetzski’s hands mounted by Sander on a sample of the author’s handwriting testifies to their decades-long friendship and the appreciation they had for one another.
August Sander: Old Farmer, 1927–1931 © Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Köln; VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2012
Photographs acquired from family-owned collections represent an important source for the reconstruction of the genesis of individual images. With the aid of those depicted or their descendents, it is often possible to secure previously unknown photographs for August Sander’s oeuvre or establish family ties. Thus, portraits of various provenances also form thematic groups within the exhibition. Family and individual portraits, frequently stemming from different periods, reflect the photographer’s activity in the Westerwald.
The exhibition features both known and unknown works and provides insight into the constantly expanding collection of Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur, which was established twenty years ago with the acquisition of the extensive August Sander Archive. Light will be thrown in particular on various aspects of collecting in connection with the inventory of Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur.
Visitors are invited to have a look on material from the August Sander Archive on Wednesday, April 11, at 6 pm in the study room. Advance registration is requested. The number of participants is limited to fifteen. (in German)
Vignette : Wilhelm Schürmann: Schräges Fenster, 15.4.1980, Dortmund-Steinhammerstr.
from the project: Wegweiser zum Glück. Bilder einer Straße 1979-1981 © Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur, Köln 2012