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Die Kunst in der Photographie

Herausgegeben von Franz Goerke
Vierter Jahrgang: 1900
Berlin: Verlag Von Martin Oldenbourg

The fourth year 1900 of this publication featured 36 photogravures issued as six art folios. The photogravures reflect the following themes:
  • Art Folio #1: Reproduces work from the VII International Exhibition of Art Photography held in Hamburg, Germany in 1899.
  • Art Folio #2: Reproduces work from members of the Society for the promotion of Photography in Leipzig.
  • Art Folio #3: Reproduces work of French Artistic photography: specifically, René Le Bčgue, Paul Bergon, Robert Demachy, Constant Puyo.
  • Art Folio #4: Reproduces the artistic photographic work of Mrs. Aura Hertwig of Charlottenburg (today, the western district of Berlin in Germany).
  • Art Folio #5: Reproduces the artistic photographic work of James Craig Annan of Glasgow, Scotland.
  • Art Folio #6: Reproduces artistic photographic from several different countries including France, Germany and England.

In the article: Die Kunst in der Photographie, the German Camera Work: Part 2: Texts in Abstract (History of Photography: Volume II, Number 1, January-March 1987) the author, Rolf H. Krauss, presents a series of abstracts and summaries of the text articles issued with the run of this publication. The following are very brief summaries from the text articles appearing in 1900.
The writer and critic Alfred Lichtwark in an article titled "Wohin?" (Where?) (From p.1) states: "In the past five years the development of photography as an art form has surpassed all expectations. "Now we are at the top...It seems to me that our next task is not to press forward, but rather an intense cultivation of this newly conquered art form." In particular, the author pleads for a thorough study of portrait photography. In a few paragraphs he draws up a remarkable brief history of portrait photography, and complains about the enormous sums of money which are spent every year on portraits made by professional photographers. He believes that in a healthy national economy this money should much rather be used for art. Retouched pictures, he says, have spoilt the public‘s taste. The translation concludes with an intriquing idea: "The great task faced by amateur societies remains the reform of photographic portraiture." (From: p.6: Texts in Abstract)
Beginning on p.9, Hans Merian in an article titled: "Das malerische Sehen in der Photographie" (roughly: Seeing pictorially in Photography) states: "A photograph is not, of course, a painting, but is, at its best, a good and useful substitute. Only a painting is regarded as a work of art. He then quotes the French writer and journalist Émile Zola who said a work of art is a piece of nature, "viewed by the artist‘s temperament". The translated abstract by Krauss concludes with an amusing observation by Merian: stating that photography is inherently a mechanical process, he says: "Therefore it is not surprising that men of great intellect, authorities in art and science, often display such unintellectual expressions before the lens of the professional photographer". (From: p.8: Texts in Abstract)
Beginning on p.17 and concluding on p.26, the writer Hildegard Lehnert contributes two articles, one titled "Das Motiv und seine Behandlung in der künstlerischen Photographie" (The Motif and its‘ treatment in artistic photography) and the other on the photographer Aura Hertwig of Charlottenburg- " Künstlerische Photographien von Frau A. Hertiwig, Charlottenburg" - beginning on page 21. Lehnert defines motif in relation to the fine arts: "that aspect of a natural view which, as a result of certain prominent qualities, draws the greatest visual appeal." Lehnert discusses motif in relation to the picture making process and touches on the subjects of nudes: "Nudes are motifs which call for a delicate, calm surrounding, in order to fascinate the eye." (From: p.5-6: Texts in Abstract)
Lehnert next discusses the work of Aura Hertwig, which is appropriate because Art Folio #4 for the year 1900 includes six examples of her work reproduced as large plate photogravures. "During this spring Mrs. Hertwig‘s works were presented to the public for the first time, with the Berlin "Free Photographic Society" arranging the display. These photographs were the result of quiet and private work over two years. We must welcome the fact that another woman has joined the 12 to 15 ladies who have been working as photographers here and abroad. Naturally, she prefers the out-of-focus trend. Despite her unmistakable, characteristic style, some of her pictures are reminiscent of the photographs by Robert Demachy." (From: p.6: Texts in Abstract)
The work of James Craig Annan is next discussed by the Hamburg writer Richard Stettiner beginning on p.29 and running to p.36. Fortunately, a full translation into English from the German appears in the book: J. Craig Annan: Selected texts and bibliography Edited by William Buchanan (Clio Press, 1994). An excerpt: "Only around 1891 did I seriously start to produce original works in the field of photography. When the Linked Ring was founded and its prospectus of the first salon was published, I liked the plan very much and decided to participate. The members of the Ring, who were all total strangers to me, immediately judged my work favourably and accepted it gladly. They felt that our aspirations were the same and we quickly became good friends." A short biography is included on Annan - his involvment with the famous family firm of T. & R. Annan & Sons Co. of Glasgow, his connection with David Octavius Hill and aesthetic concerns of Annan are discussed and this observation by Stettiner: "Craig Annan is an artist. Those who wish to speculate in front of his work whether a photographer can be an artist are incapable of the immediate response which should only be followed by critical analysis." Six, large plate Chine-collé photogravures by Annan are included comprising Art Folio #5 for the year 1900. We learn from Stettiner‘s text about them: "However we can be proud of the fact that the plates in this article were etched by Annan himself. He is a master of this technique and knows to handle it in the same way as others deal with the bichromate print, thus giving the prints made from his plates the artistic importance of originals." (From: J. Craig Annan: Selected texts and bibliography Edited by William Buchanan (Clio Press, 1994: p.101-105))
Munich writer and photographer Fritz Matthies-Masuren concludes the letterpress to the 1900 volume of Die Kunst in der Photographie with an essay titled: "Zur Entwicklung der Kunstphotographie" (To the development of Art Photography) on pages 41-44. Another excerpt: "We do not strive to turn photography into an art, but to take the development of pictorial photography to the highest conceivable level." "Along those lines, exhibitions are the most important means of influencing the public. One should, however, discriminate; only the most valuable work belongs in public exhibitions." Under the heading of "delineating space", Matthies-Masuren then points to the difficulty of always finding satisfying subjects in nature, and warns against subsequent adjustment of the pictures by means of scissors." (From: p.8: Texts in Abstract)
This online exhibition showcases the 36 large plate photogravures that make up the year 1900. In this year, photographic portraiture takes center stage in a higher proporation than previous years of this publication. The tone for this is set in the very first art folio, with the essay by Alfred Lichtwark outlining the history of the photographic portrait and making a case for its‘ improvement. The highlights are perhaps the Annan photographs, the originals of which are richly printed original examples of his work in photogravure. The mostly unknown, mysterious work of Aura Hertwig is presented in this gallery - possibly for the very first time in depth on the Internet. There is also an important example of Puyo‘s work: "Chant Sacré" (Sacred Song), a wonderful portrait study by Robert Demachy: "Mignon", and a rare view by Theodor and Oskar Hofmeister: "Night Walk" (Nachtgang) also known as "The Old Woman".
David Spencer (April 2007) 



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