After the launch of the series of German photography exhibitions in 2014, we present another two photographers from the Weimar Republic. What was essential for photographers Erich Salomon (1886- 1944) and Friedrich Seidenstücker (1882- 1966), who were both self-taught, was the recording of the situation, photography of the moment.
Erich Salomon, born in Berlin, founded a taxi company after the war where he drove a side-car himself. Publisher Ullstein discovered him through the company’s advertising and he took a position in the advertising sector in 1925. His career as a photojournalist began in 1928, with a series of photos snapped secretly during a trial for murder. Salomon quickly gained success because he was able to take photos in indoor situations that were normally associated with “the idea of the puff of the magnesium lamp, which is scary and gives off that white smoke” (Salomon, 1931). His abandonment of the lamp and flash and frequent use of hidden equipment gave an intimacy to a world that not everybody could access and gave the spectator the feeling of having been there. In 1929, the “Weekly Telegraph” described his work with the definition “candid camera” and, when he photographed the second Hague Convention in 1930, the French Prime Minister Aristide Briand called him the “King of the Indiscreet”. The career of the German-Jewish photographer was halted by the rise of the Nazis and he and his family were deported in 1943. Only son Otto Erich survived his exile to London and after the war he devoted his attention to consolidating his father’s archive, which was then bought by the state of Berlin and is today kept at the Berlinische Galerie.
Born in Unna, Westphalia, Friedrich Seidenstücker took his first photos with a camera he made himself. In 1927, he began to concentrate on his photography and his first photos appeared in illustrated magazines the very next year. The culture of every day, daily events, the actions and behaviour of humans became the main drive behind his work. From 1930 onwards, he photographed for the Ullstein magazine and was published with notable success until 1935. Carrying a small format camera, he would wander the streets of Berlin and any everyday circumstance, no matter how banal, deserved to be photographed. It wasn’t so much his journalism or the series that defined him as an exceptional reporter but the addition of frames. The “photographer of the moment” as he liked to call himself, became an exceptional documentarist of everyday life in Berlin during the Weimar Republic.
Accademia Tedesca a Villa Massimo