The Museum Ludwig holds an outstanding collection of photographs encompassing some 70,000 works from the beginning of photography in the nineteenth century to the present. Starting March 24, parts of the Photographic Collection will be showcased in a special Photography Room within the permanent collection of the Ludwig Museum in an effort to gradually present the collection. The room provides the Museum Ludwig with a permanent space dedicated to photography.
The French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908–2004) and the Cologne-based photographer Heinz Held (1918–1990) met several times: 1956, when Cartier-Bresson traveled to Cologne, where his pictures were shown at the photokina fair, Heinz Held assisted in installing the exhibition. They also met at L. Fritz Gruber’s house, the founder and head of the photokina exhibitions. It is not passed down what they talked about. But they had a similar approach to photography: Using a small camera, strolling unnoticed around and waiting for the moment, when something unexpected, touching, funny would surface in the picture – usually unnoticed by the persons photographed. Cartier-Bresson spoke of the “decisive moment.” And it was the man or woman of the street they both showed interest in, not the star or well-known persons.
From the spectrum of both their works this presentation shows pictures depicting people in museums, in the city, when a painting, a sculpture, a poster or street sign enter into dialogue with their viewers or passersby. These are the correlations leading Cartier-Bresson to identify the surreal pontential of photography. Heinz Held found therein a “magic”, that “stir the heart.”
To expand our exhibition area, we are also simultaneously opening the FOTO LAB, a space in which children and adults can participate and experiment. Visitors will be able to experience how a camera obscura—the original camera—works, pose in front of a photo mural, or put together their own exhibition using fifty reproductions from the Photographic Collection. These reproductions were provided by Pixum, an online photo service based in Cologne. This space will animate the Museum Ludwig’s Photographic Collection in a number of ways while also making it more accessible.