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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Walter Schels

Dates:  1936, 7 March -
Born:  Germany, Landshut
Active:  Switzerland / USA / Canada / Spain
In 2003 journalist Beate Lakotta and Walter Schels asked 24 terminally ill people if they could accompany them during their last weeks and days. This exhibition "Life Before Death" was shown at the Wellcome Collection in London (April - May, 2008) 
Artist statement: 
We all know that we are going to die one day, but it is very difficult to believe that it will really happen to us. Our motivation for this project was to overcome our own fear of facing up to death. The project goes some way to explore this. (Life before Death)

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Exhibitions on this website

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ThumbnailWalter Schels: Life before Death 
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Walter Schels, born in 1936 in Landshut, Bavaria, is a highly versatile artist. He started out as a window dresser (working in Geneva, Barcelona and Canada) before discovering a love of photography which took him to New York in 1966, where he became a photographer. He returned to Germany in 1970 and worked successfully for illustrated and fashion magazines, and in advertising. From 1975, Schels spent several years capturing the moment of birth in a series of photoreportages for the parents’ magazine Eltern. The process of photographing children only a few seconds old led him to develop a growing fascination with faces. Schels soon became known for his portraits of artists, politicians and other prominent figures in cultural and intellectual circles. For many years he has brought the same intensity to his portraits of animals.
Exhibitions - Life before Death
2009 Noch mal leben, Fotoforum West, Adolf-Pichler-Platz 8, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria (
2008 Noch mal leben, Kornhausforum, Kornhausplatz 18, CH-3011 Bern, Switzerland (
2008 Noch mal leben, Kunsthaus Hamburg, Klosterwall 15, 20095 Hamburg, Germany (
2008 Life before death, Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE, UK (
2007 Noch mal leben, Ehemalige Karmeliterkirche, München, Germany (
2006 AmorTe, Máe d’Agua, R. das Amoreiras, Lisbon 1250, Portugal
2006 Noch mal leben, Kunstmuseum des Kantons Thurgau, Kartause Ittingen, 8532 Warth, Switzerland (
2005-2006 Noch mal leben, Willy-Brandt-Haus, Wilhelmstraße 140, 10963 Berlin-Kreuzberg, Germany (
2005 Noch mal leben, Museum für Sepulkralkultur, Weinbergstraße 25–27, 34117 Kassel, Germany (
2004 Noch mal leben, Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, Lingnerplatz 1, 01069 Dresden, Germany (
Other Selected Exhibitions
2008 Fabelwesen , Fotografie-Festival Horizonte Zingst
2007 Closed Eyes, Brandts Museet for Fotokunst, Odense, Brandts Torv 1, 5000 Odense C, Denmark (
2007 Fotografien, Galerie Brigitte Schenk, Koln, Germany (
2006 BFF-Ikonen - ZeitBlicke aus 5 Jahrzehnten, Photokina (
2006 Haus der Wirtschaft, Willi-Bleicher-Str. 19, 70174 Stuttgart (
2004 Lebenszeit - Walter Schels, Photokina (
2004 German Photographers, Academy of Fine Arts, Shanghai, China
2004 German Photographers, Art Museum, Hangzhou, China
2002 Walter Schels: Das zweite Gesicht, Freie Akademie der Künste, Hamburg
1999 Beuys and Warhol: Collagen und Übermalungen, Altonaer Museum, Hamburg
1997 Jung und Alt, Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, Dresden
1995 Portraits, Fotografie Forum, Frankfurt
1994 Blinde, Kampnagel, Hamburg
1985 Neugeborene, PPS-Galerie, Hamburg
1985 Tierische Porträts, Galerie der Künste, München
1981 Reportage und Portraits, Nikon-Galerie, Zürich
1980 Masks, Kunsthaus, Zürich
1976 Photographia Surreale, Galleria Il Diaframma, Milano
1975 New York, New York, Galerie Waterloo, Brüssel  
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