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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Edmund Kesting

Dates:  1892, 27 July - 1970, 21 October
Born:  Germany, Dresden
Died:  Germany, Birkenwerder (nr. Berlin)
Active:  Germany
German avant-garde artist, photographer and teacher whose work was considered degenerate by the Nazis.

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Edmund Kesting
Self-portrait as painter with pipe 
1928-1929 (ca)
Family history 
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Supplemental information

During the 1920s, Kesting was at the center of the avant-garde movement in Germany, where he befriended Kurt Schwitters and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. He first trained as a painter at the Akademie der Kunst in Dresden from 1911 to 1916. In the early 1920s, after service in World War I, he turned to collage and photography. An exhibitor at Herwarth Walden's Der Sturm gallery (Berlin), which supported German expressionism and the Blue Rider group, Kesting also operated several private art schools. The last, Der Weg (The Way), was closed by the Nazis in 1933. Kesting’s interest in the photographic portrait began in 1930, and often resulted in bold experimentation (Photomontages, superimpositions and solarizations) that provided some of the strongest examples of German expressionist portraiture in photography. In contrast to the objective naturalism of August Sander, his work is informed by the “Sturm und Drang” of the period – the storm and stress of the political, economic, and social unrest in Germany. After the war in 1948, Kesting taught at the Kunsthochschule in Berlin-Weissensee. – (partially excerpted from James Borcoman, Magicians of Light, National Gallery of Canada, 1993)
Kesting, Edmund Ein Maler Sieht Durch's Objectiv Fotokino Verlag Halle, 1958
Brix, Karl: Edmund Kesting. Malerei, Grafik, Fotografik, Exhibition catalogue., Karl-Marx-Stadt (Chemnitz): Städtische Kunstsammlungen, 1962.
Edmund Kesting, Exhibition catalogue., Potsdam: Kulturhaus Hans Marchwitza, 1983.
Werner, Klaus: Edmund Kesting. Ein Maler, fotografiert, Leipzig 1987.
[Courtesy of Muse XX, October 2007]  

Internet biographies

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Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website
Grove Art Online ( has a biography of this artist. 
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Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Auer, Michele & Michel 1985 Encyclopedie Internationale Des Photographes de 1839 a Nos Jours / Photographers Encylopaedia International 1839 to the present (Hermance, Editions Camera Obscura) 2 volumes [A classic reference work for biographical information on photographers.] 
• Coke, Van Deren with Diana C. Du Pont 1986 Photography: A Facet of Modernism (New York: Hudson Hills Press, The San Francisco Museum of Art) p.176 
• Lenman, Robin (ed.) 2005 The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (Oxford: Oxford University Press)  [Includes a short biography on Edmund Kesting.] 
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