Man Ray: Gräfin Casati, ca. 1922
Man Ray, Gräfin Casati, ca. 1922, Gelatinesilver, 39 x 29,8 cm

The Photographic Collection of the Museum Ludwig

The Mu­se­um Lud­wig pre­serves one of Eu­rope’s largest and most sig­ni­f­i­cant col­lec­tions of nine­teenth and twen­ti­eth-cen­tu­ry pho­tog­ra­phy. From the out­set it was above all ded­i­cat­ed col­lec­tors who con­tribut­ed to its di­ver­si­ty and qual­i­ty. Just one year af­ter the found­ing of the Mu­se­um Lud­wig in 1976, for in­s­tance, the corn­er­s­tone of the pre­sent Pho­to­graph­ic Col­lec­tion was laid with the purchase of works from the L. Fritz Gru­ber Col­lec­tion. This nu­cleus was then cont­in­u­al­ly ex­pand­ed through fur­ther do­na­tions from the cou­ple L. Fritz and Re­nate Gru­ber. Gru­ber fos­tered first-rate con­tacts to pho­to­g­ra­phers in Ger­many and abroad and, as the or­ganiz­er of the pho­tok­i­na-Bilder­shauen (pho­tok­i­na pho­to ex­hi­bi­tions), helped to bring their work to public at­ten­tion af­ter the col­lapse of the Na­tio­n­al So­cial­ist dic­ta­tor­ship.

To­gether with the col­lec­tions of the Ag­fa Pho­to-His­to­ra­ma, the pho­to­g­ra­pher Robert Le­beck, and Daniela Mrazko­va, as well as a large body of Rus­sian pho­to­graphs of the 1920s and 1930s on loan from the Peter and Irene Lud­wig Foun­da­tion, the Pho­to­graph­ic Col­lec­tion of the Mu­se­um Lud­wig in­cor­po­rates ear­ly daguerreo­types, unique in­cunab­u­la from the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry, ma­jor artis­tic pho­to­graphs, al­bums, and port­fo­lios, as well as wide-rang­ing ma­te­rials on the cul­tu­r­al his­to­ry of the medi­um. The pho­to­g­ra­pher Robert Le­beck, for ex­am­ple, amassed nine­teenth-cen­tu­ry pho­to­graphs and al­bums on a large scale—in­clud­ing nu­mer­ous trav­el pho­to­graph­s—that have been housed in the Mu­se­um Lud­wig since 1994. And, at the out­set of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry, the pho­tog­ra­phy his­to­rian Erich Stenger be­gan sys­te­m­at­i­cal­ly col­lect­ing pho­to­graphs and his­tor­i­cal ma­te­rials on pho­tog­ra­phy, such as car­i­ca­tures and books. Th­ese were purchased by Ag­fa in 1955 and pre­sent­ed at the Ag­fa Fo­to-His­to­ra­ma Mu­se­um on the Bay­er/Ag­fa fac­to­ry premis­es in 1974. A rec­og­nized “na­tio­n­al trea­sure,” the col­lec­tion was ac­quired by the Mu­se­um Lud­wig in 2005.

A first-rate ex­pan­sion of the Rus­sian Avant-Garde col­lec­tion area was made pos­si­ble with the purchase of the Daniela Mrazko­va Col­lec­tion in 2008. Reg­u­lar spe­cial ex­hi­bi­tions make the Pho­to­graph­ic Col­lec­tion in the Mu­se­um Lud­wig ac­ces­si­ble. At pre­sent, while the hold­ings are be­ing dig­i­tal­ized, se­lect­ed ob­jects can be viewed on­line at www.kul­turelles-erbe-koeln.de.

In re­cent de­cades the col­lec­tion has been brought up to date through purchas­es and gifts, in­clud­ing works by An­dreas Gursky, Tho­mas Ruff, Wolf­gang Till­mans, Chris­to­pher Wil­li­ams, and Sh­er­rie Levine, to name on­ly a few.