Staatsgalerie Stuttgart Marks the Eightieth Anniversary of the Exhibition “Film und Foto”

In 2009, the year marking the eightieth anniversary of the exhibition »Film und Foto« originally presented in Stuttgart in 1929, the Staatsgalerie is commemorating that show with a selection of more than sixty works from its collection.

willi-baumeisterOrganised by the German Werkbund (an association of artists, architects, designers, and industrialists), the exhibition opened at the New Exhibition Hall on Interim Theatre Square. »Film und Foto« (FIFO) presented some 1200 works by 200 authors and provided the first systematic overview of international developments in film and photography in a wide range of areas comprising art, advertising, propaganda and the press. The exhibition was the first to recognise the far-ranging effects film and photography had on contemporary culture as a whole and to highlight the informative and educational power of mechanically produced and mass-circulated images. It facilitated the cross-genre comparisons of themes, applications and stylistic devices.

The exhibition showed classic genres (such as portrait, landscape and still life) alongside reportage, and scientific photographs side by side with experimental studies of light as well as photo-collages. Similarly unconventional was the display: works were simply mounted on paper or matted and unceremoniously nailed to the walls. Anonymous works hung alongside those of well-known artists, and works by individuals alongside those of classes such as those from the Bauhaus in Dessau or the Folkwang School in Essen. In terms of structure, FIFO thus combined elements of an art fair and the art exhibition.

The exhibition demonstrated the strength of the »New Vision« as an abstract pictorial language that was rooted in a structural view of reality. It exploited what was technically possible and emphasised the photographic character of the image, thereby breaking once and for all with traditional artistic photography.

FIFO was reconstructed in 1975, initially in individual sections, by the Württembergischer Kunstverein within the framework of the exhibition »Fotografie 1929/1975« organized in cooperation with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Photographie (»Bild« department) and the Kodak Company. A comprehensive reconstruction was then carried out in 1979 for the travelling exhibition entitled »Film und Foto der zwanziger Jahre«.

Comprising more than seventy works, the presentation »Film und Foto: An Homage« commemorates FIFO as a milestone in exhibition and media history. In addition to the original exhibition poster and a display of original publications, the show features more than sixty photographs by artists who participated in the FIFO – among them berenice abbot, eugène atget, willi baumeister, hannah höch, lászló moholy-nagy, paul outerbridge, man ray und alexander rodtschenko.

In a separate exhibition room, a selection of approximately ten short films from the original FIFO film programme is being shown – works meanwhile considered classics of avantgarde film. Organized by Hans Richter, these cinematic works were screened at the time in the »Königsbau-Lichtspiele«, a movie theatre no longer in existence today.

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Image: Willi Baumeister, Head, 1923, 35,1 x 24,9 cm. Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2009.