God has given you one face, and you make yourselves another. So spoke Hamlet. What may the face reveal or be made to reveal? Some answers come in an exhibition of photography from the Weimar Republic at the Albertina.
- Portrait photographs from 1920s and 1930s Germany
- Runs Feb 12 – May 24, 2021
- Just needs a normal museum entrance ticket (or a sightseeing pass)
- See also: Albertina visitor & tickets info
Faces: the Power of the Human Visage
The Weimar Republic (1918 – 1933) is a name that conjures up that part of Germany’s past ever damned to sit between two earth-shattering bookends of European history: WWI and the rise of the Nazis.
That period did, however, leave a significant cultural mark: a swirl of images of Berlin clubs and cabarets is, perhaps, as much a part of the Weimar popular legacy as its ignominious end.
The “Faces” exhibition looks at the evolution and redefinition of portrait photography during that period. Various photographers from the Weimar Republic migrated from a classical approach to using the face as an artistic resource in its own right. Portrait photos no longer only reflected the owner’s personality, but also reflected (and influenced) the surrounding sociocultural context or took avant garde perspectives.
Among the photographers featured:
- Helmar Lerski, with examples from his Metamorphosis through Light series of dozens of photos of one young man in Israel.
- Marta Astfalck-Vietz, whose experimental works survived the depravations of WWII (unlike her more commercial efforts).
- August Sander, whose People of the 20th Century series counts as one of the iconic works of 20th century photography.
- Irene Bayer, whose work appeared in, for example, Bauhaus publications.
- Gertrud Arndt, another photographer with a connection to the Bauhaus movement and known for her staged self-portraits. Many consider her a forerunner of the likes of Cindy Sherman.
- Max Burchartz, known perhaps as much for his design and corporate communication work.
- Willy Zielke, also recognised for his film work (he once collaborated with the controversial Leni Riefenstahl).
The photos comes from the Albertina’s own collection as well as from such institutions as the Berlinische Galerie museum of modern art.
Dates and tickets
Enjoy the result of the photographer’s art from February 12th to May 24th, 2021. A normal Albertina museum ticket gets you into all the current on-site exhibitions. Alternatively, a city sightseeing pass gives you one-time free entry.
The Albertina seems to have a bit of a photography focus in 2021. The Albertina Modern, for example, shows pieces from the Essl Collection. And the Albertina proper has planned June exhibitions dedicated to the Japanese photographer, Nobuyoshi Araki, and to post-1945 American photography.
How to get to the exhibition
You should have no trouble finding the Albertina, which sits proudly in the centre overlooking the state opera house. Pick up travel tips in the main museum article.
If you enjoy the art of photography, then I recommend a visit to the wonderful Kunst Haus Wien, which always features a photo exhibition (unless you catch them during the setting up period). As a bonus, the same institution houses the Hundertwasser Museum.
Address: Albertinaplatz 1, 1010 Vienna