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"An American in Europe: The Photography Collection of Baroness Jeane von Oppenheim from the Norton Museum of Art
2002-04-06 until 2002-06-16
Frye Art Museum
An American in Europe features more than 140 European photographs that trace influential photographic movements of the twentieth century. The exhibition includes work by international prominent artists André Kertész, Alexander Rodchenko, Bernd and Hilla Becher, and Sigmar Polke. The diverse subject matter embraces plant studies, landscapes, portraiture, and abstraction. This exhibition traces influentialphotographic movements from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day.
The exciting presentation includes the
work of several prominent pre-war European photographers
published in Alfred Stieglitz's groundbreaking magazine
Camerawork; a very significant group of modernist
photographers working in Germany and other parts of Europe
between the two World Wars; an important circle of innovative
photographers working in the immediate post-war era; as well
as the avant-garde generation of photographers that has
recently emerged in Europe.
Bauhaus artists coming to prominence just after the First World
War explored innovative and often iconoclastic processes such
as photogram exposures, collage effects, photo-montage
techniques, and abstracted imagery. These revolutionary
directions are evident in images produced by Lucia Moholy, Kattina Both, and Lotte Jacobi.
Fascinated with plant life, Ernst Fuhrmann did not photograph
himself, but his close friends Albert Renger-Patzsch and Lotte
Jacobi operated the camera while Fuhrmann closely supervised.
Some of Fuhrmann's collaborative efforts have the look of scientific
documentation while others take on more fanciful appearances.
August Sander's portrait types that document a range of German
citizenry are much better known than the landscape studies of
Cologne environs that he began producing when socially-charged
imagery was curtailed by a Nazi regime.
The von Oppenheim collection includes European artists of diverse
origins. André Kertész, a Hungarian working in Paris from 1925 to
1936, contrasted the ephemeral promises of advertising with the
everyday realities of life. In addition, the Russian Alexander
Rodchenko's well-known images revealing this contain odd angle
and dramatic viewpoints - this artist's trademark use of unusual
Following the Second World War, the Neue Sachlichkeit or New
Vision artists focused on contemporary subject matter and the
technical capabilities of the camera. Later, Berndt and Hilla Becher
advanced the objective tradition of Neue Sachlichkeit photography
by repetitively recording factory buildings and mechanical
structures, symbols of an industrial landscape marginalized in a
world of rapidly advancing technology and emerging corporate
economies. Other artists emerging in Germany of the 1960s, such
as Sigmar Polke and Gerhardt Richter, turned to photography as a
primary source of imagery for their large-scale, media-influenced
Baroness Jeane Wahl von Oppenheim is an American collector
who lives in Cologne, Germany, and Palm Beach, Florida. Born in
New York City and trained in art history at Connecticut College,
New London, she married Baron Alfred von Oppenheim in 1962.
By 1968, Baroness von Oppenheim began collecting photography
in out-of-the-ordinary places, such as antiquarian booksellers and
flea markets. Buying what she liked, von Oppenheim developed a
particular taste for and discriminating expertise in European photography of the 20th century.
Von Oppenheim started the photography department of the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in
Cologne, and has given her expertise as well as parts of her collection to the adjoining
Museum Ludwig. She has been an important figure within the vibrant art world of Germany
since the 1970s, and is currently on the Board of the Museum Ludwig, the Wallraf-Richartz
Museum, and the Kunstverein, all in Cologne.
, Russian, , Stairs, ca., 1930,
Gelatin silver print,
Gift of Baroness Jeane von Oppenheim, 98.516
(c) Estate of Alexander Rodchenko/Licensed by VAGA, New York,