Presentation in the Photography Room

April 27 – Novem­ber 10, 2024

On May 19, 2024, Cologne pho­to­g­ra­pher Karl Heinz Hargesheimer, who was known as Chargesheimer (1924–1971), would have turned one hun­dred. To cele­brate the cen­te­nary of his birth, Mu­se­um Lud­wig will dis­play a se­lec­tion of around fif­ty of his works in the Pho­tog­ra­phy Room. Chargesheimer rose to fame with his pho­to books Cologne in­time and Un­ter Krah­nen­bäu­men, both of which fo­cus on ev­ery­day life in Cologne. The pre­sen­ta­tion in­cludes for­ty-three pic­tures tak­en within the con­text of th­ese two se­ries. Two videos al­low vis­i­tors to ac­cess the con­tents of the pho­to books. In ad­di­tion, the pre­sen­ta­tion in­cludes three of Chargesheimer’s less­er-known sculp­tures called Med­i­ta­tions­mühlen (Med­i­ta­tion Wheels) and six of his ab­s­tract pho­to­graph­ic ex­per­i­ments.

In 1957 Chargesheimer’s pho­to­graphs were pub­lished in Cologne in­time, a pho­to book or­ganized by Hans Sch­mitt-Rost, the then di­rec­tor of the Nachricht­e­namt, or news agen­cy, in Cologne. Chargesheimer was tasked with tak­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tive im­ages of the re­con­struc­tion of the ci­ty, which had been re­duced to ruins in the war, as well as de­pict­ing the “typ­i­cal” resi­dents of Cologne. The pho­to­graphs con­tribut­ed by Chargesheimer re­flect his unu­su­al, di­rect view of ev­ery­day life. In his 1958 book, Un­ter Krah­nen­bäu­men, which he or­ganized him­self as an in­de­pen­dent pro­ject, he jux­ta­posed sim­i­lar pho­to­graphs in stark­ly con­trast­ing se­ries of mo­tifs. This doc­u­men­ta­tion tells the un­var­nished truth while af­fec­tio­nate­ly ex­plor­ing the street in Cologne whose name is fea­tured in the book’s ti­tle. Chargesheimer shows life in the streets and in the bars of a live­ly Cologne neigh­bor­hood that was still in­tact. Ger­man writ­er Hein­rich Böll wrote in the fore­word to this publi­ca­tion, “Streets like this one are per­haps the on­ly places where peo­ple re­al­ly live.”

Chargesheimer pur­sued many in­ter­ests. Along­side his doc­u­men­tary studies, he in­vesti­gat­ed pho­tog­ra­phy as an im­age-pro­duc­ing medi­um. In the late 1940s, he be­gan ex­per­i­ment­ing with light graph­ics and pho­to­chem­i­cal pro­cess­es and cre­at­ing pho­to­graphs with­out a cam­era. Chargesheimer de­scribed his ex­per­i­ments with pho­to­graph­ic plates and neg­a­tives in a text ac­com­pany­ing his first ex­hi­bi­tion in Mi­lan in 1950: “Pan­n­ing, wip­ing, scrap­ing, cool­ing, burn­ing—ad­d­ing acids, bas­es, col­ors, and var­nish­es.” Th­ese ex­per­i­ments re­sult­ed in pain­ter­ly works in the style of Art In­formel that was pre­va­lent at the time.

In 1967 Chargesheimer be­gan cre­at­ing ki­net­ic works called Med­i­ta­tions­mühlen (Med­i­ta­tion Wheels) made of Plexi­glas. Three of th­ese works from the col­lec­tion of the Mu­se­um Lud­wig will be pre­sent­ed in the ex­hi­bi­tion for the first time in thir­ty years. Con­sist­ing of mul­ti­ple lev­els of crys­tal­line el­e­ments made of Plexi­glas, the dome-shaped con­struc­tions are put in­to mo­tion through a com­plex sys­tem of gears. The be­wilder­ing va­ri­e­ty of light re­flex­es from Plexi­glas prisms cre­ates an unu­su­al con­trast to the pre­cise me­chan­ics of the gears. Chaos and con­trol seem to com­ple­ment one another here.

Cu­ra­tor: Bar­bara En­gel­bach