Heinrich Heidersberger
  • Introduction

  • CV

  • Exhibitions

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In the late 1940s, Heinrich Heidersberger shot his iconic nude series Kleid aus Licht (German for “Dress of Light”) for the magazine Stern, which Henri Nannen had recently founded. This series – which caused outrage in prim post-war Germany – is now viewed as one of the classics of photographic art.

The idea was as simple as it was spectacular: Using a projector he fashioned out of a cooking pot, he covered naked bodies with spots and stripes of light. In doing so, he combined nude photography and experimental photography in ways never seen before. Heidersberger’s “dresses” of light reveal, above all, the photographer’s passion for the phenomenon of light, a theme he explores further in his later work, Rhythmographien (“Rhythmographies”). Heidersberger came to photography by chance. In 1928 he moved to Paris to study painting with Fernand Léger. Walking through a flea market, he stumbled across an old wooden camera. It was, as he says, “a sign from fate”.

Marc Peschke

Heinrich Heidersberger , who died in 2006 at the age of 100, has his place among the most important German photographers of the second half of the 20th century. Seminal images in the fields of architecture and advertising mark his complex life’s work, and his name as an artist is of great repute as well. An exceptional photographer of the modernist aesthetic, Heinrich Heidersberger knew exactly how to combine the documentary approach of photography with modernist ideas. In his photographs he combines function and visual aesthetics, incorporating economic, technical, and social aspects into his perfectly balanced pictures. The aesthetic ideas of modernism were influenced by the notion of structure. Heidersberger’s photographs open our understanding of these structural laws in a surprising and creative way. In his photographs of post-war architecture of the fifties Heidersberger revealed the aesthetics of modernism, thus presenting them as an interplay of structure and form. Heidersberger’s images have retained their importance in photography, in spite of all of the visual styles and trends that have developed over the last decades.
1906born 10 June in Ingolstadt, Germany. After the death of his father, he spends time as a “Wienerkind” in Denmark
High school graduation in Linz, Austria. Short studies of architecture in Graz
1928–31Stay in Paris, visit to Fernand Léger’s painting atelier. First photographic work together with Ida Kar. Meets Piet Mondrian and Yves Tanguy
1931–35Lives in Den Haag and Copenhagen
1936Moves to Berlin. Works as a photojournalist for Ullstein und Scherl and as a photographer. First publications in the international year book Photographie. First pictures in architecture photography. Published works in: Das deutsche Lichtbild, 1936/37
1937–38Publication of the book Ein deutsches Flugzeugwerk for the Henkel-Werke in Berlin-Adlershof
1938–45Director of the picture library of the steel mill of Salzgitter-Lebensstedt, meets Erik Hesselberg, a Norwegian artist who later becomes navigator on the Kon-Tiki expedition led by Thor Heyerdahl in 1947
1945Translator and photographer for the English army
1946Opening of the “Studio Five” atelier in Braunschweig, Germany. First exhibition in the Kunstverein Braunschweig. Begins to work as a photo journalist for Stern magazine
1950Numerous works commissioned by the architects of the “Braunschweiger Schule”
1955Creation of Rhythmogramm’s related to the mural for the Wolfenbüttel school of engineering
1957Silver medal for the Rhythmogramm “Triennale,” 11. Triennale di Milano (Esposzione internazionale delle arti decorative e industrie moderne e dell` architettura moderna) Entrance in the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Photographie and in the Deutschen Werkbund. Meets Jean Cocteau
1961Moves to Wolfsburg; co-founder of the artist group “Schloßstraße 8” in the castle of Wolfsburg
1963Publication of the illustrated book Wolfsburg – Bilder einer jungen Stadt, Bruckmann Verlag München
1966Gold medal at the Tonbildschau-Festival in Frankfurt (Sound and image project for the Jena Glass Factory Schott)
1981Receives the Cross of Merit of Niedersachsen
1986Receives the silver medal of Wolfsburg
1989Invitation to Tuscon, Arizona (USA), exhibitions and conferences at the Center for Creative Photography (CCP) of the University of Tucson
Travels to Lemvig, Copenhagen, and Paris for the filming of "Die zweite Wirklichkeit" , a movie on the evolution of Heidersberger’s photography (script and direction: Karl-Heinrich Weghorn, Uwe Brodmann, Siegfried Tautz, funded by the Niedersächsische Filmförderung)
2000Start of the systematic archiving of Heidersberger’s lifework by Bernd Rodrian, encouraged by the city of Wolfsburg, the ministry of culture of Niedersachsen and the culture foundation of the Niedersächsischen Sparkassen
2001Establishment of the association Atelier Heinrich Heidersberger e.V. for the conservation of Heidersberger’s lifework in Wolfsburg
2002Establishment of the Heidersberger Institute dedicated to the archive and the contemporary discussion of Heidersberger’s work
2003Granted honorary citizenship of Wolfsburg
2006100th anniversary of Heinrich Heidersberger on June 10th. Beginning of the exhibition “Heidersberger Einhundert” including various stages though Wolfsburg, Braunschweig, Berlin, Cologne, and Linz (Austria)
Heinrich Heidersberger dies in Wolfsburg on July 14, 2006

Exhibitions (Selection)

2005Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (ZKM), Karlsruhe
Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa), Stuttgart: „Zwei deutsche Architekturen“, Wanderausstellung
2002Kultur unterm Schirm, Kirchentellinsfurt
2001Architektenkammer Niedersachsen, Hannover
Galerie InFocus, Köln
Kunsthalle Bielefeld: Abstrakte Fotografie
Medienwerkstatt des Caspar-David-Friedrich-Instituts der Ernst-Moritz-Arndt Universität Greifswald
2000Stadtmuseum Wolfsburg: Heinrich Heidersberger Architekturphotographie 1952-72
1999Galerie für Fotografie - Georg Eichinger, Berlin
1998The Museum of Modern Art, New York (USA)
1997Kunstverein Gifhorn: Die Rhythmogramme
Museum für Konkrete Kunst, Ingolstadt: Die Rhythmogramme
Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin: Wolfsburg und Eisenhüttenstadt
1996Deutsch-Dänische Gesellschaft, Bad Harzburg
Städtische Galerie Wolfsburg
Fotozentrum Zimmermann, Hannover
Goethe-Institut Paris, DGPh (F)
1995Galerie Wendelin Niedlich, Stuttgart
1992Museum für Photographie, Braunschweig
1990Stadt- und Lichtbildgalerie, Ingolstadt
1989Center for Creative Photography (CCP) der Universität Tucson/Arizona (USA)
Kunsthalle Bielefeld: Das Foto als autonomes Bild
Bayerische Akademie der Künste, München: Das Foto als autonomes Bild
1987Danmarks Fotomuseum, Herning (DK)
Neue Galerie der Stadt Linz (A)
1986Kunstverein Wolfsburg
1984Image et Imaginaires d´Architecture, Centre Pompidou, Paris (F)
The Photographers Gallery, London (UK)
1982Stadt- und Lichtbildgalerie Ingolstadt
1972Olympisches Dorf München: „Haus Wolfsburg“
1971Städtische Galerie Wolfsburg
1967Galerie Clarissa, Hannover
1966Tonbildschau für Jenaer Glas in Frankfurt
Museet for Fotografi, Viborg (DK): Heidersberger fotografier
1962Städtische Galerie Wolfsburg
Neue Galerie der Stadt Linz (A)
1956Die Neue Sammlung, München
1946Kunstverein Braunschweig

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