Friday, January 13, 2012

Seidenstücker: Berlin street photography

Yesterday I went to the Friedrich Seidenstücker exhibit at the Berlinische Galerie (exhibit up until Feb. 6). His photographs are mostly of street scenes from Weimar-era Berlin, and go into the 30s. He also has photographs from after the war and from the occupation of Berlin.

I thought many of the images from the 30s echo the same themes as Ruttmann's film Sinfonie der Großstadt. He has photographs of people on their way to work and during their free time. The motifs of city life are central: train stations, traffic, buildings...but also the places of recreation: the zoo, the lakes around Berlin. Actually, he had a strange fascination for the zoo, and some of the photos were even funny, comparing the zoo visitors to the animals.

More on the exhibit. 

I love this picture below of the women eating ice cream. Their bikes, their skirts, the sunlight...It's so beautiful.
"Nach der Schule ein Eis" (um 1931).
In terms of postwar photography, the exhibit described his work as focusing more on life in the ruins, than on the devastation itself. I would generally agree. In the below image, two US soldiers look over what was the Tiergarten. A few statues are all that lets you recognize what kind of forest was once there. In the background, you can see a line of hollow, destroyed houses. By placing the viewer behind the soldiers, you not only have their line of sight, but this is made more complex by their presence. What do they see when they see this destruction? The tracks of tanks are also in the foreground, making the signs of war subtle, but present.

And I love this image, below. I didn't see it in the exhibition, but I know it from his other work. It's the perfect symbol for the West German "Wirtschaftswunder," the "economic miracle" of postwar recovery. And so funny :)

1 comment:

  1. I remember the kinderwagen!!!!! In fact I have pictures of Debbie in hers and I did bring it back to the United States!!!