2021 Pro­gram

This is our 2021 ex­hi­bi­tion pro­gram:

Au­gust & Marta
How Au­gust San­der Pho­to­graphed the Pain­ter Mar­ta Hege­mann (and Her Chil­dren’s Room!)
A pre­sen­ta­tion for chil­dren

3/12 – 7/42021
Pre­sen­ta­tion in the Pho­tog­ra­phy Room

How proud and fierce she looks in Au­gust San­der’s pho­to! The wo­m­an we see here is the pain­ter Mar­ta Hege­mann, who used to be a teach­er. Her blouse and neck­lace look tousled, and she has all sorts of sym­bols paint­ed on her face. When Mar­ta Hege­mann paint­ed two mu­rals for a chil­dren’s room three years lat­er, it was again Au­gust San­der who doc­u­ment­ed her work and the re­sult with his cam­era.

The paint­in­gs were shown in 1929 in the ex­hi­bi­tion Raum und Wand­bild at the Köl­nisch­er Kun­stverein. Un­for­tu­nate­ly, they have since been lost. Thanks to San­der’s pho­tos, we know what they looked like—at least in black and white—and can try to re­cre­ate the chil­dren’s room. In this pre­sen­ta­tion for chil­dren, we use pho­to­graphs to learn about an un­con­ven­tio­n­al wo­m­an who al­so paint­ed for chil­dren.

Cu­ra­tor: Miri­am Szwast


Be­tye Saar
2020 Wolf­gang Hahn Prize

March 25 – June 27, 2021

Due to the Coro­na Pan­dem­ic the award cer­e­mony and the pre­sen­ta­tion of Be­tye Saar’s work will be post­poned to spring 2021. On March 24, 2021 the amer­i­can artist will be award­ed the twen­ty-sixth Wolf­gang Hahn Prize from the Ge­sellschaft für Mod­erne Kunst.

This recog­ni­tion of the artist, who was born in Los An­ge­les in 1926 and is still lit­tle known in Ger­many, is high­ly time­ly, the ju­ry con­sist­ing of; Chris­tophe Ch­er­ix, Robert Leh­man Foun­da­tion chief cu­ra­tor of draw­in­gs and prints at the Mu­se­um of Mod­ern Art (Mo­MA) in New York; Yil­maz Dziewior, di­rec­tor of the Mu­se­um Lud­wig and the board mem­bers of the as­so­ci­a­tion de­cid­ed. For more than fif­ty years, Be­tye Saar has cre­at­ed as­sem­blages from a wide va­ri­e­ty of found ob­jects, which she com­bines with draw­ing, prints, paint­ing, and pho­tog­ra­phy.

The Ge­sellschaft für Mod­erne Kunst ac­quired the as­sem­blage The Di­vine Face for Mu­se­um Lud­wig’s col­lec­tion. This work will be pre­sent­ed along­side some works on pa­per by the artist from March 25 to June 2021 in the col­lec­tion of the Mu­se­um Lud­wig.

Guest ju­ror Chris­tophe Ch­er­ix on Be­tye Saar: “Be­tye Saar’s work oc­cu­pies a piv­o­tal po­si­tion in Amer­i­can art. Her as­sem­blages from the 1960s and ear­ly 1970s in­ter­weave is­sues of race, politics, and su­per­na­t­u­ral be­lief sys­tems with her per­so­n­al his­to­ry. Hav­ing grown up in a ra­cial­ly se­g­re­gat­ed so­ci­e­ty, Saar has long held that art can tran­s­cend our dark­est mo­ments and deep­est fears. To­day, the emer­gence of a new gen­er­a­tion of artists min­ing her poig­nant le­ga­cy attests to how pro­found­ly Saar has changed the course of Amer­i­can art. The 2020 Wolf­gang Hahn Prize not on­ly ac­knowl­edges her ex­traor­d­i­nary achieve­ments and in­flu­ence, but al­so rec­og­nizes the need to re­vis­it how the his­to­ry of art in re­cent de­cades has been writ­ten.”

About Be­tye Saar
Be­tye Saar has lived and worked in Lau­rel Cany­on, Los An­ge­les, for over fif­ty years. Since 1961 she has had count­less ex­hi­bi­tions, es­pe­cial­ly in the Unit­ed States. Her ear­ly im­por­tant so­lo ex­hi­bi­tions in­clude Black Girl’s Win­dow at the Berke­ley Art Cen­ter in Cal­i­for­nia (1972) and Be­tye Saar at the Whit­ney Mu­se­um of Amer­i­can Art in New York (1975). Saar’s lat­est so­lo ex­hi­bi­tions in the Unit­ed States opened in au­tumn 2019: Be­tye Saar: Call and Re­sponse at the Los An­ge­les Coun­ty Mu­se­um of Art and Be­tye Saar: The Le­g­ends of Black Girl’s Win­dow at Mo­MA. The Mu­se­um De Do­mi­j­nen in the Nether­lands pre­sent­ed her first so­lo ex­hi­bi­tion in Eu­rope (2015), fol­lowed one year lat­er by the ret­ro­spec­tive Un­easy Dancer at the Fon­dazione Pra­da in Mi­lan. Saar has been award­ed six hon­o­rary doc­to­r­ates and has re­ceived mul­ti­ple life­time achieve­ment awards.

#M­Lx­Be­tye­Saar #wolf­gang­hah­n­prize&nb­sp;#WH­P2020


In si­tu: Pho­to­s­to­ries on Mi­gra­tion

3/27 - 7/11/2021

Pho­to­graphs of Cologne and other ci­ties in the Rhine­land from the pe­ri­od be­tween 1955 and 1989 vi­su­al­ize the con­s­tant changes brought about by the re­si­dents.

The lit­tle-known, di­verse sto­ries of mi­grant work­ers are the fo­cus of this ex­hi­bi­tion. As con­tem­po­rary wit­ness­es, they of­fer in­sight in in­ter­views. What do their per­so­n­al pho­to­graphs tell us about the ci­ty and how it was en­livened by their im­mi­gra­tion? How do streets, build­in­gs, shops, res­tau­rants, and parks be­come places of re­mem­brance, part of the ci­ty’s his­to­ry? And, in com­pari­son, what do the ci­tys­capes tak­en by Chargesheimer, Heinz Held, Can­di­da Höfer, and Ul­rich Till­mann from the col­lec­tion of the Mu­se­um Lud­wig por­tray?

Be­yond the fleet­ing ex­pe­ri­ences of ur­ban life, pho­to sto­ries on mi­gra­tion make it pos­si­ble to re­mem­ber the di­verse ways in which peo­ple find their place in a new ci­ty. The ex­hi­bi­tion is a joint pro­ject with the Doc­u­men­ta­tion Cen­ter and Mu­se­um of Mi­gra­tion in Ger­many (DO­MiD). Manuel Go­gos and Au­ro­ra Ro­donò served as cu­ra­to­rial ad­vi­sors.

Cu­ra­tors: Ela Kaçel (ar­chi­tec­tu­ral his­to­rian, and guest cu­ra­tor) and Bar­bara En­gel­bach (cu­ra­tor)



Green Mod­er­nism
The New View of Plants

6/12 - 8/8/2021

“Whether we ac­cel­er­ate the growth of a plant through time-lapse pho­tog­ra­phy or show its form in for­ty-fold en­large­ment, in ei­ther case a geys­er of new im­age-worlds hiss­es up at points in our ex­is­tence where we would least have thought them pos­si­ble.” Wal­ter Ben­jamin made this ob­ser­va­tion in 1928 in light of re­cent pho­to­graphs and film re­cord­in­gs of plants. He was not alone in his fas­ci­na­tion with green­ery. Cin­e­mas were packed with au­di­ences for the film Das Blu­men­wun­der, which fea­tured time-lapse shots of plants that pre­sent­ed their live­li­ness in a com­plete­ly new way.

Pho­to­graph­ic en­large­ments of leaves, buds, and stems made a tech­ni­cal­ly ab­s­tract aes­thet­ic vis­i­ble and be­came pop­u­lar in book form. Paint­ing, graph­ics, and sculp­ture al­so fea­tured green­ery dur­ing the Wei­mar Re­public. Af­ter all, the new ar­chi­tec­ture, with its larg­er win­dows, opened up com­plete­ly new pos­si­bil­i­ties for “in­door gar­dens.” And as in­no­cent as a pott­ed plant in a pic­ture may look at first glance, it is part of a dis­course that pen­e­trates to the heart of key is­sues of the mod­ern age: ex­oti­cism, and eman­ci­pa­tion, pop­u­la­tion growth, and ur­ban­iza­tion, ac­cel­er­a­tion, and de­cel­er­a­tion. Plant life has al­ways been of in­ter­est not on­ly to bo­tanists. This ex­hi­bi­tion high­lights as­pects of green mod­er­nism that are once again in the air dur­ing th­ese plant-con­s­cious times. Wasn’t the cac­tus the Mon­stera De­li­ciosa of the 1920s?

Cu­ra­tor: Miri­am Szwast


Fe­lice Bea­to in Ja­pan

7/31 – 11/212021
Pre­sen­ta­tion in the Pho­tog­ra­phy Room

In 1863, the Italian-Bri­tish pho­to­g­ra­pher Fe­lice Bea­to (1832–1909) came to Ja­pan and start­ed a pho­tog­ra­phy stu­dio in Yoko­ha­ma. His some­times high­ly staged pho­tos of peo­ple as well as land­s­capes were print­ed in large edi­tions and were par­tic­u­lar­ly pop­u­lar among trav­el­ers to Ja­pan. Hand-col­ored and bound in al­bums, his pic­tures are now scat­tered around the globe, and some have found their way to the Mu­se­um Lud­wig.

Since they con­vey a West­ern view of an­cient Ja­pan, spo­ken com­men­tary by Ja­pa­nese peo­ple will de­con­struct the works in the pre­sen­ta­tion. The re­sult is a syn­th­e­sis sim­i­lar to what oc­curs in th­ese black-and-white pho­to­graphs tak­en by a West­ern pho­to­g­ra­pher and col­ored by Ja­pa­nese wood­cut pain­ters.

Cu­ra­tors: Miri­am Szwast with Meike Deil­mann



HERE AND NOW at Mu­se­um Lud­wig
to­gether for and against

8/21/2021 – 1/23/2022

The sev­enth edi­tion of the ex­hi­bi­tion se­ries HERE AND NOW at Mu­se­um Lud­wig deals with the Ja­pa­nese avant-garde in the 1960s from to­day’s per­spec­tive. What de­vel­op­ments in the post­war pe­ri­od did artists re­act to at the time? What mo­ti­vat­ed their sen­sa­tio­n­al public per­for­mances? And how do to­day con­tem­po­rary artists re­late to this his­tor­i­cal move­ment? The Ja­pa­nese avant-garde emerged fol­low­ing the oc­cu­pa­tion of the coun­try by the Unit­ed States Army (1945–52). It is close­ly linked to so­ci­e­tal shifts dur­ing this time: the de­moc­ra­ti­za­tion of Ja­pan un­der the fi­nan­cial and po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence of the Unit­ed States was ac­com­panied by a surge in eco­nom­ic growth, so­cial up­hea­vals, and a new cul­tu­r­al iden­ti­ty.

The po­lice re­spond­ed with vi­o­lence to re­sis­tance and de­mon­s­tra­tions by stu­dents and trade unions. Mean­while, pre­pa­ra­tions were un­der­way for the 1964 Sum­mer Olympics in Tokyo and Ex­po ’70 in Os­a­ka, which were meant to pre­sent the coun­try as an in­no­va­tive and at­trac­tive place.

The ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tures pho­to­graphs of ac­tions and per­for­mances by vari­ous artist col­lec­tives in the 1960s from the col­lec­tion of the M+ Mu­se­um in Hong Kong. At the same time, the spon­ta­neous, hu­mor­ous, and some­times rad­i­cal in­ter­ven­tions by the Chim↑Pom col­lec­tive (found­ed in Tokyo in 2005) and cur­rent works by Ko­ki Ta­na­ka (b. 1975) cre­ate a dia­logue be­tween gen­er­a­tions. Groups such as Neo Da­da, Hi Red Cen­ter, and Ze­ro Di­men­sion protest­ed against the sta­tion­ing of the Unit­ed States Army in Ja­pan, dis­crim­i­na­tion against mi­grants. To­day Chim↑Pom and Ko­ki Ta­na­ka ex­plore the po­ten­tial of re­sis­tance in their own ways: their works deal with per­so­n­al life paths, politics, re­li­gion and com­mu­ni­ty, pover­ty and re­pres­sion, as well as me­m­ories of the war and Fukushi­ma.

Cu­ra­tor: Na­na Tazuke

#HEREAND­NOW #fo­ran­da­gainst


Boaz Kaiz­man

9/3/2021 – 1/9/2022

On the oc­ca­sion of the an­niv­er­sary year “2021: 1,700 Years of Jew­ish Life in Ger­many,” the Mu­se­um Lud­wig will com­mis­sion the artist Boaz Kaiz­man to de­vel­op a ma­jor new work.

Kaiz­man, born in Tel Aviv in 1962, has lived and worked in Cologne since 1993. He has cre­at­ed a com­plex and dist­inct oeu­vre in a va­ri­e­ty of me­dia, which has long had a con­nec­tion to the Mu­se­um Lud­wig. The mu­se­um’s col­lec­tion in­cludes works such as Han­nah Arendt: The Jour­ney to Jerusalem from 2018, an an­i­mat­ed video that com­bines per­so­n­al me­m­ories and doc­u­men­tary ma­te­rial on three cen­tral fig­ures of the Jew­ish-Ger­man dis­course: Han­nah Arendt, Ger­shom Sc­holem, and Ben­jamin Murmel­stein.

For his ex­hi­bi­tion at the Mu­se­um Lud­wig, Kaiz­man will de­vel­op a large-scale me­dia in­s­tal­la­tion with more than twen­ty dif­fer­ent videos, which will be shown on a space of around 200 square me­ters. It in­vites vis­i­tors to move free­ly through the in­s­tal­la­tion and dis­cov­er dif­fer­ent facets of the work. Each of th­ese attests to what Jew­ish life can be, now and in the past, in Cologne and Tel Aviv.

Cu­ra­tor: Bar­bara En­gel­bach

#M­LxBoazKaiz­man #2021JLID


Pi­cas­so, Shared and Di­vid­ed
The Artist and His Im­age in East and West Ger­many

9/25/2021 – 1/30/2022

What do we as­so­ci­ate with the most fa­mous artist of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry? And how did our par­ents and grand­par­ents pic­ture him in the post-war years, when he was at the height of his fame? Pab­lo Pi­cas­so seems to have had two per­so­n­al­i­ties that con­trast strong­ly with each other. For some he was a lone ge­nius, a ma­cho and a myth, while for others he was a pa­ci­fist, com­mu­nist, and phi­lan­thropist.

At the time, the world was di­vid­ed in­to two camps that each claimed him as their own. Pi­cas­so served as a fig­ure­head and sym­bol for both sys­tems and in both Ger­man states. Through­out his life he re­mained loy­al to the French Com­mu­nist Par­ty, which he joined in 1944. He sup­port­ed peace con­fer­ences and so­cial move­ments the world over. But he lived in the West and al­lowed bour­geois crit­ics to pre­sent him as an apo­lit­i­cal ge­nius, “the mys­tery of Pi­cas­so.” Pi­cas­so was seen as the great­est on both sides of the wall, but th­ese two ver­sions of him were not the same.

Which works were shown un­der so­cial­ism, and which un­der cap­i­tal­ism? How was his work con­veyed? Did the West see on­ly the art, and the East his politics? And how did the artist see things him­self? The ex­hi­bi­tion ex­plores the im­age that peo­ple took from Pi­cas­so’s pic­tures in the two Ger­manys. It re­con­structs ex­hi­bi­tions dur­ing the post-war pe­ri­od and de­con­structs myths. One fo­cus is Peter and Irene Lud­wig’s Pi­cas­so col­lec­tion, which re­mains one of the largest to this day. Works from it were ex­hi­b­it­ed on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions in East Ger­many.

The ex­hi­bi­tion is not just his­tor­i­cal. It aims to show that Pi­cas­so re­mains as rel­e­vant as ev­er in this time of glob­al up­hea­val, in our still di­vid­ed world. The po­lit­i­cal di­men­sion of the works and the ques­tion of the so­cial role of art will fea­ture pro­mi­nent­ly. In ad­di­tion, two works have been com­mis­sioned: One is a film by Peter Nestler which con­tex­tu­al­izes Pi­cas­so’s work in south­ern France af­ter the Se­cond World War within the post-mi­gra­tion pre­sent in the town of Val­lau­ris. The other is an ex­hi­bi­tion de­sign by Er­an Schaerf that deals with the com­plex­i­ty of Pi­cas­so’s the­mat­ic ref­er­ences. Just as Pi­cas­so de­pict­ed ob­jects from mul­ti­ple points of view, the ex­hi­bi­tion aims to al­low his work and im­pact to be viewed from sev­er­al per­spec­tives at the same time.

Cu­ra­tor: Ju­lia Frie­drich


Schultze Pro­ject­s#3
Min­er­va Cue­vas

11/6/2021 – Novem­ber 2023

For the third edi­tion of the se­ries Schultze Pro­jects, Min­er­va Cue­vas (*1975 in Mex­i­co Ci­ty) will de­vel­op a new site-spe­cif­ic work for the main stair­case of the Mu­se­um Lud­wig. The name of the se­ries re­fers to Ber­nard Schultze and his wife Ur­su­la (Schultze-Bluhm), whose es­tate is ma­n­aged by the Mu­se­um Lud­wig, and in whose me­m­o­ry ev­ery two years since 2017 an artist has been in­vit­ed to cre­ate a large-scale work for the pro­mi­nent front wall of the stair­way to the per­ma­nent col­lec­tion.

Min­er­va Cue­vas is known for her re­search-based pro­jects, which she ex­hi­bits in the form of in­s­tal­la­tions, per­for­mance, video, and paint­ing. She is in­ter­est­ed in eco­nom­ic and en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues and their so­cio-po­lit­i­cal in­ter­re­la­tions. Cue­vas of­ten re­fers to the spe­cif­ic con­text in which her work is cre­at­ed. For ex­am­ple, for the ex­hi­bi­tion mark­ing the for­ti­eth an­niv­er­sary of the Mu­se­um Lud­wig, she de­vel­oped a work that ref­er­enced the Peter and Irene Lud­wig Foun­da­tion, which was estab­lished in 1982 un­der the name Lud­wig Stif­tung für Kunst und In­ter­na­tio­nale Ver­stän­di­gung GmbH (Lud­wig Foun­da­tion for Art and In­ter­na­tio­n­al Un­der­s­tand­ing). She de­signed an in­s­tal­la­tion made of a black rec­tan­gu­lar woo­d­en frame with red, yel­low, and blue ac­cents, whose com­po­si­tion re­called Pi­et Mon­drian’s ab­s­tract paint­ing Tableau I. Its purchase was very con­tro­ver­sial at the time, and to­day it is one of the high­lights of the Mu­se­um Lud­wig’s col­lec­tion. In this in­s­tal­la­tion, sim­i­lar to some of her other works, the artist deals with the po­ten­tial and ef­fects of ar­tis­tic prac­tice for so­ci­e­ty. In this sense, Min­er­va Cue­vas sees art as an ac­tive con­tri­bu­tion to so­cial changes. She us­es paint­ing more as a means to an end rather than as an ex­am­i­na­tion of the me­di­um’s con­di­tions and rules. For her large-scale mu­rals she some­times us­es the lan­guage of ad­ver­tis­ing, in­clud­ing the lo­gos of spe­cif­ic brands, which she sub­s­tan­tial­ly al­ters. Fol­low­ing her crit­i­cal ap­proach, with her paint­ing Min­er­va Cue­vas il­lus­trates the neg­a­tive ef­fects of con­sump­tion and the eco­nom­ic ori­en­ta­tion of hu­man ac­tiv­i­ty on so­ci­e­ty and the en­vi­ron­ment.

Min­er­va Cue­vas’s so­lo ex­hi­bi­tions in­clude: Disi­den­cia, Mishkin Gallery, New York (2019); No Room to Play, daad­ga­lerie, Ber­lin (2019); Dis­sidên­cia, Galpão VB – As­so­ci­ação Cul­tu­r­al Video­brasil, São Pau­lo (2018); Fine Lands, Dal­las Mu­se­um of Art (2018); Min­er­va Cue­vas, Museo de la Ci­u­dad de Méx­i­co (2012); Land­in­gs, Corn­er­house, Manch­es­ter (2012); S·­COOP, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Lon­don (2010); Min­er­va Cue­vas, Van Abbe­mu­se­um, Eind­hoven (2008); Pheno­m­e­na, Kun­sthalle Basel (2007); Das Ex­per­i­ment 6: MVC Biotech­no­lo­gies – Für ein natür­lich­es In­ter­face, Se­ces­sion, Vien­na (2001); On So­ci­e­ty, MC Kunst, Los An­ge­les (2007); Egal­ité, Le Grand Café – Cen­tre d’art con­tem­po­rain, Saint Nazaire (2007); Sch­warz­fahr­er Are My Heroes, daad­ga­lerie, Ber­lin (2004); Me­jor Vi­da Corp, Ta­mayo Mu­se­um, Mex­i­co Ci­ty (2000).

Cu­ra­tor: Yil­maz Dziewior

#M­Lx­Cue­vas #schultze­pro­jects

Mar­cel Oden­bach
2021 Wolf­gang Hahn Prize

11/17/2021 – 2/20/2022

Mar­cel Oden­bach is the re­cipi­ent of the twen­ty-sev­enth Wolf­gang Hahn Prize from the Ge­sellschaft für Mod­erne Kunst am Mu­se­um Lud­wig. On be­half of the ju­ry con­sist­ing of Su­sanne Pf­ef­fer, di­rec­tor of the Mu­se­um für Mod­erne Kunst in Frank­furt am Main; Yil­maz Dziewior, di­rec­tor of the Mu­se­um Lud­wig; and the board mem­bers of the Ge­sellschaft für Mod­erne Kunst, guest ju­ror Su­sanne Pf­ef­fer ex­plains the com­mit­tee’s de­ci­sion:

“For de­cades, Mar­cel Oden­bach has re­s­o­lute­ly ex­amined con­struc­tions of cul­tu­r­al iden­ti­ty and gen­der in his draw­in­gs, col­lages, videos, and in­s­tal­la­tions. His start­ing point is not on­ly the Self, but the Other. Oden­bach cre­ates works that—­ex­per­i­men­tal in form and the­o­ret­i­cal­ly found­ed in con­ten­t—­ex­pose his­tor­i­cal con­nec­tions be­tween co­lo­nial­ism and glob­al­iza­tion and make the vi­o­lence of the nor­ma­tive and rep­re­sen­ta­tion tan­gi­ble.” The tech­nique of col­lag­ing is evi­dent in Oden­bach’s Sch­nittvor­la­gen, which will be ac­quired for the mu­se­um’s col­lec­tion. Th­ese are both an im­age archive and at the same time the cen­tral ba­sis for the artist’s work, and will be ex­hi­b­it­ed to the public for the first time. Th­ese works, which be­gan in 1990, con­sist of over 100 sheets of pa­per, most­ly in A3 for­mat. The pho­to col­lages are es­sen­tial to Oden­bach’s con­cep­tu­al ap­proach and of­fer mu­se­um vis­i­tors new in­sights in­to the work­ing meth­ods of this year’s re­cipi­ent of the Wolf­gang Hahn Prize.

Mar­cel Oden­bach (b. 1953 in Cologne) lives and works in Cologne, Ber­lin, and Cape Coast, Gha­na. His lat­est in­sti­tu­tio­n­al so­lo show, Mar­cel Oden­bach: Es bren­nt at the Kun­sthalle Nürn­berg, will be on view un­til Jan­uary 10, 2021. The artist had his first so­lo ex­hi­bi­tion while a stu­dent, in 1978 at de Ap­pel in Am­s­ter­dam. This was fol­lowed by nu­mer­ous so­lo shows at, in­ter alia, the Kun­st­mu­se­um Bonn (2013), the Tel Aviv Mu­se­um of Art (2016), and the Kun­sthalle Wien (2017). Oden­bach par­ti­ci­pat­ed in doc­u­men­ta 8 in 1988, the Shar­jah Bi­en­nial 7 in 2005, the Kochi-Muziris Bi­en­nale in 2012, and the Bu­san Bi­en­nale in 2018. He has taught film and video at the Kun­s­takademie Düs­sel­dorf since 2010.

#wolf­gang­hah­n­prize #M­Lx­O­den­bach

Raghu­bir Singh. Kolka­ta

12/11/2021 – 3/27/2022
Pre­sen­ta­tion in the Pho­tog­ra­phy Room

The pho­to­g­ra­pher Raghu­bir Singh (1942, Jaipur – 1999, New York) re­turned to Kol­ka­ta (which was named Cal­cut­ta un­til 2001) re­peat­ed­ly over a pe­ri­od of ten years to cre­ate a com­plex and mul­ti-lay­ered pho­to­graph­ic por­trait of the ci­ty. Hav­ing grown up in Jaipur, the cap­i­tal of the In­dian state of Ra­jasthan, Singh vis­it­ed Kol­ka­ta for the first time in 1975 be­fore he moved to Hong Kong and Paris; lat­er he lived in Lon­don and New York.

In his street views in par­tic­u­lar, Singh con­dens­es Kol­ka­ta’s varied im­pres­sions in­to pho­to­graphs of im­pres­sive col­or and com­po­si­tion. He saw th­ese col­ors as char­ac­teris­tic of the ge­og­ra­phy and cul­ture of In­dia. He used them to di­rect the view­er’s at­ten­tion across the en­tire pic­ture so that the fore­ground and back­ground of­ten ap­pear as if on a sin­gle plane. In this way, the dif­fer­ent his­tor­i­cal lay­ers are equal­ly rep­re­sent­ed in the pho­to­graph. Singh’s pho­to­graphs are a cos­mopol­i­tan’s ho­mage to a cos­mopol­i­tan ci­ty.

Cu­ra­tor: Bar­bara En­gel­bach