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1945 – Cologne and Dresden

1945 - Cologne and Dresden

19 March - 7 June 2015

Photographs by Hermann Claasen and Richard Peter in Cooperation with Deutsche Fotothek Dresden and Stiftung F.C. Gundlach Hamburg

Even today these two books of photographs influence our perception of the World War II destruction of German cities: Hermann Claasen's (1899–1987) Gesang im Feuerofen (Song in the Fiery Furnace) from 1947 shows us Cologne in ruins, Richard Peter's (1895–1977) book Dresden, eine Kamera klagt an (a camera makes accusations), published for the first time in 1950, was the most successful photography book in the GDR, having been reprinted many times.

This exhibition shows not only the vintage prints for these two books, it also reconstructs the history of both books' origins and above all, places their respective first publication in a specific historical context: In this way it becomes clear that although both books deal with the horrors of World War II, they each approach this topic from completely different perspectives. Hermann Claasen's work shows almost exclusively the ruins of Cologne churches from a Catholic-Rhenish point of view. In contrast to this, Richard Peter's book, completely in keeping with cold war politics, accuses both Hitler Germany and Anglo-American imperialism.

Such a critical historical analysis of these two works has been made possible through the cooperation of our exhibition partners: All three institutions not only dispose over important photograph collections, they also harbor extensive archive material on the respective photographers that provides a basis for in-depth research. This show marks the launch of an annual exhibition series from the respective holdings of the cooperating partners. An accompanying publication in the form of an archive cassette box will appear in an edition of 500. An exclusive, limited edition of 50 is available containing an additional two prints made by hand from the original negatives of both photographers.

With the generous support of Kunststiftung NRW.

More information here: Deutsche Fotothek, Stiftung F.C. Gundlach and Stadtmuseum Dresden.


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