Werner Mantz, Kommunionsporträt eines Mädchens, Limburg, 1959, Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017, Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam; Haus am Botanischen Garten, Köln, um 1929, Museum Ludwig, Köln © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017

Werner Mantz
Architectures and People

Oc­to­ber 14, 2017 – Jan­uary 21, 2018

Open­ing: Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 13, 2017, 7 p.m.

Wern­er Mantz (1901–1983) is known as one of the most promi­nent pho­to­g­ra­phers of the Neues Bauen move­ment of mod­er­nist ar­chi­tec­ture in Cologne dur­ing the 1920s. Born and raised in Cologne, in 1921 he opened a pho­to stu­dio, where he ini­tial­ly took por­traits of fa­mous in­tel­lec­tu­als, artists, and politi­cians. In 1926 he be­gan re­ceiv­ing com­mis­sions as an ar­chi­tec­tu­ral pho­to­g­ra­pher for Wil­helm Riphahn, Peter Franz Nöck­er, Cas­par Maria Grod, and other rep­re­sen­ta­tives of avant-garde ar­chi­tec­ture who im­ple­ment­ed Kon­rad Ade­nauer’s hous­ing pol­i­cy for a mod­ern Cologne. Ar­chi­tec­tu­ral mag­azines such as Bauwelt, Die Form, and Bauwarte fre­quent­ly pub­lished his works. Their ob­jec­tive, black-and-white aus­ter­i­ty gives the de­sert­ed build­ings and streets in Mantz’s pic­tures the ap­pear­ance of monu­men­tal back­drops of the mod­ern age. It was th­ese pic­tures that made Cologne’s mod­er­nist ar­chi­tec­ture renowned be­yond the boun­daries of the ci­ty.

In 1932 Mantz opened a se­cond stu­dio in Maas­tricht, and he moved to the Nether­lands in 1938. There he re­turned to por­trait pho­tog­ra­phy and spe­cial­ized in por­traits of chil­dren. He saw his por­traits as equal­ly im­por­tant as his ar­chi­tec­tu­ral pho­to­graphs, but they have not yet been ex­hibit­ed. The Mu­se­um Lud­wig will now bring to­gether th­ese two as­pects of his oeu­vre and will al­low vis­i­tors to ex­pe­ri­ence it in its his­tor­i­cal breadth and di­ver­si­ty for the first time ev­er.

Cu­ra­tor Miri­am Hal­wani about work­ing on the ex­hi­bi­tion

“In the 1920s, Wern­er Mantz pho­to­graphed mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture and lat­er chil­dren look­ing se­ri­ous­ly in­to the cam­era on their first com­mu­nion. As ba­nal as his sub­jects seem at first glance, dur­ing the pre­pa­ra­tions for the ex­hi­bi­tion I was sur­prised by the cool­ness and eeri­ness that his pic­tures ex­ude. The build­ings that he pho­to­graphed are de­void of peo­ple, clean, al­most vir­tu­al. We do not know the iden­ti­ties of the peo­ple in the por­traits tak­en in his stu­dio in the 1950s. In a way, we are on­ly left with out­er shells. And it is pre­cise­ly for this rea­son that the th­ese pic­tures per­sist in our me­m­o­ry. We can­not link them to a sto­ry and file them away in our minds. This was an ex­pe­ri­ence that be­came pos­si­ble on­ly by en­gag­ing with the pic­tures in the room and that I had not an­ti­ci­pat­ed in the ini­tial plan­n­ing of the ex­hi­bi­tion.”

About the ex­hi­bi­tion

The ex­hi­bi­tion is a joint pro­duc­tion with the Ned­er­lands Fo­to­mu­se­um in Rot­ter­dam, which holds the ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of Mantz’s pho­to­graphs from the Nether­lands. Cu­ra­tors: Miri­am Hal­wani (Mu­se­um Lud­wig) and Frits Gier­st­berg (Ned­er­lands Fo­to­mu­se­um)

The ex­hi­bi­tion is gener­ous­ly sup­port­ed by the Min­istry of Cul­ture and Sci­ence of the State of North Rhine-West­phalia, the King­dom of the Nether­lands, GAG Im­mo­bilien AG, and the Wern­er Mantz Foun­da­tion.

#mu­se­um­lud­wig #M­LxWM