Boy at the Richard-Wagner-Platz street festival, Berlin 1981
[Junge auf dem Straßenfest, Richard-Wagner-Platz, Berlin 1981], 1981
Gelatin silver print
21,4 × 29,4 cm
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018
Reproduction: Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln/Cologne
Doing the Document: Photographs from Diane Arbus to Piet Zwart Diane Arbus, Boris Becker, Karl Blossfeldt, Walker Evans, Lee Friedlander, Florence Henri, David Hockney, Candida Höfer, Gabriele and Helmut Nothhelfer, Max Regenberg, Albert Renger-Patzsch, Tata Ronkholz, August Sander and others
Diane Arbus, Boris Becker, Karl Blossfeldt, Walker Evans, Lee Friedlander, Candida Höfer, Gabriele and Helmut Nothhelfer, Tata Ronkholz, Albert Renger-Patzsch, August Sander, Hugo and Karl Hugo Schmölz, Garry Winogrand, Piet Zwart—across generations, all these photographers continually followed themes over decades in their work. In the case of Sander, these series formed an atlas of People of the Twentieth Century, while Höfer has created an archive of public spaces and their codes of representation, and Blossfeldt catalogued the formal variety of fauna and flora. “Straight photography” brought together the varying reception of photography as artistic and documentary in a particular way.
This survey exhibition presents the mutual influence between German and American positions in the dense cultural landscape of the Rhineland from the 1960s to the 1990s. In 1967 the Museum of Modern Art in New York showed works by Arbus, Friedlander, and Winogrand, all of whom are represented here, under the title “New Documents.” Where does the document end and the artistic gesture begin? This is a question that has always been debated in the history of photography and must also be renegotiated today in these post-factual times amid the increasing aestheticization of archival and documentary materials in contemporary art. The exhibition title Doing the Document deliberately dispenses with the supposed opposition between the creative and the documentary.