A world of images: Photographic institutions in Cologne
Cologne is doubtless a city of photography. August Sander, one of the 20th century’s most prolific photographers, worked here, as did Chargesheimer and L. Fritz Gruber. Photokina, the world’s largest photography fair, is based here. And of course there’s a large number of museums, galleries and exhibition spaces that show and collect photos. Here’s an introduction to the four most important institutions for photography in Cologne. In a later post, I will describe the city’s galleries and off-spaces.
With around 70,000 works, Museum Ludwig owns one of the largest and most significant photography collections in Europe. Its history began with the acquisition of the L. Fritz Gruber collection in 1976, which was subsequently extended again and again. Today, it comprises works by Andreas Gursky, Thomas Ruff, Wolfgang Tillmans and Sherrie Levine plus vintage prints of photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Edward Steichen, Alexander Rodtschenko, Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Muybridge. Previously, these treasures only rarely went on show – but this is about to change.
A new photography space has just opened within the permanent collection, where curator Miriam Halwani plans to display parts of the collection on a rotating basis. The first show is dedicated to Henri Cartier-Bresson and Heinz Held. Another opens on September 1, 2017, commemorating the centenary of the birth of German writer Heinrich Böll and his personal relationship with the art.
Die Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur
Die Photographische Sammlung of the SK Stiftung Kultur largely focuses on objective documentary photography as a form of artistic expression. The acquisition of the August Sander archive with 5,500 original prints and around 11,000 original negatives in November 1992 laid the foundations of Die Photographische Sammlung and its subsequent development.
Die Photographische Sammlung puts on two or three 450 square metre shows a year. The most recent, which opened on April 6, 2017, displays the work of Emil Otto Hoppé, along with a show entitled “Industrie als Motiv” (Industry as a Motif) with works from the in-house collection including photographs by Bernd and Hilla Becher, Albert Renger-Patsch, August Sander, Joachim Brohm and Ruth Hallensleben. Also worthy of note is the collection’s extensive library with 7,200 photography volumes, which may be consulted by prior appointment.
Forum für Fotografie
Forum für Fotografie was founded by collector Norbert Moos in 2002. Since then, this almost 200 square metre space has shown five or six exhibitions a year, with a focus on artistic and conceptual photography.
Antoine D’Agata, later a member of the Magnum collective, had his first high-profile German show here; the venue has also shown Will McBride, Christer Strömholm, Nadav Kander and Peter Bialobrzeski. Forum für Fotografie also puts on an irregular series of workshops and lectures on artistic photography. When you visit, make sure you also stop off at Thomas Zander’s gallery, which is close by.
Forum für Fotografie
Schönhauser Str. 8, 50968 Cologne
Kunsträume der Michael Horbach Stiftung
In a 900 square metre space that was formerly the gallery and studio of Monika Sprüht and Rosemarie Trockel, the Foundation’s founder Michael Horbach regularly puts on photography exhibitions with a focus on social issues and human habitats, so mainly reportage and documentary photography.
He also endorses artists from Latin America and Cuba. Horbach has shown superstar photographer Sebastião Salgado as well as lesser known artists such as Flor Garduño, Raul Cañibano and Pep Bonet. In addition, every other year the Foundation awards a photography prize worth EUR 10,000 as well as scholarships for budding photographers.