40 Years of Leica Oskar Barnack Award

Exhibition from 23 October 2020 – 28 March 2021

On the occasion of the 40 year jubilee of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award (LOBA), Leica is presenting a comprehensive retrospective of all LOBA winners at the Ernst Leitz Museum. The exhibition opens on October 23. At the same time, the works of the 2020 LOBA winners will be on display at the Leica Gallery Wetzlar.

The exhibition represents a wonderful opportunity to look back over forty years of Leica Oskar Barnack Awards: touching and evocative stories, exciting rediscoveries and new encounters, with a great variety of perspectives! This exhibition offers a clear testimony to the visual richness of the LOBA winner and newcomer series over four decades, and presents photojournalism in all its diversity and constant changes.

The photographers capture vital processes and incite societal discussions; for example, around how to deal with medical problems, poverty or social injustice. Reportages about specific people, living communities and forms of society, that have appeared in series and have captured the diverse range of lifestyles, seem to be even more significant.

The overall retrospective of the LOBA series offers a glimpse into unknown worlds – as seen through the eyes of world renown photographers such as Sebastião Salgado, Gianni Berengo Gardin, Wendy Watriss, Jane Evelyn Atwood, David Turnley or Max Pinckers.

The idea for the competition came about on the occasion of the centenary of the birth year of Oskar Barnack (1879–1936), the ingenious inventor and developer of the new type of camera, with which Leica would go on to write photographic history, and which was to revolutionize amateur photography and, in particular, photojournalism.

The comprehensive presentation that spreads over both floors of the Ernst Leitz Museum, presents over 350 exhibits. The accompanying, richly illustrated catalogue documents all 52 LOBA series – 40 main winners and twelve newcomers.

KOUDELKA – Exiles and Panoramas
1968 – 2012

Exhibition from 6 March – 20 September 2020

Josef Koudelka – a life’s work between contemporary history and timelessness.

Josef Koudelka is one of the world’s most influential and distinguished photographers in recent decades. His visual language is incomparable, intense and extraordinary. Born in Boskovice (Czech Republic) in 1938, and currently living in Paris and Prague, the photographer’s impressive work will now be presented in a concise solo exhibition at the Ernst Leitz Museum in Wetzlar.

Exiles and Panoramas places the Exiles series in contrast to a personal selection of Koudelka’s panoramas, taken as of the mid eighties. While he had been entirely dedicated to 35mm photography for his previous work, a panorama camera now gave him the opportunity to discover the world in a new way: with pictures of expansive landscapes and coastal shorelines taken in Europe and the Middle East, he searches for traces of the past in areas that have undergone sometimes devastating changes due to industry, conflict or simply the passage of time. These grandiose visual worlds appear devoid of any people, yet they bear witness to human existence in a disturbing yet beguiling way.

With a total of 68 works, the exhibition at the Ernst Leitz Museum offers a focused insight into Koudelka’s oeuvre. The groups of work reflect an exciting dialogue between humanity and fate, liveliness and dead matter, contemporary history and timelessness.

Dr. Paul Wolff & Tritschler. Light and Shadow – Photographs from 1920 to 1950

Opening exhibition from 28 June 2019 – 20 September 2020

This first major retrospective covering the life and work of Dr Paul Wolff (1887–1951) and Alfred Tritschler (1905–1970) rediscovers two of the most culturally and historically significant German photographers of the first half of the 20th century. Even today, Wolff & Tritschler are renowned as outstanding pioneers of Leica photography, outstanding technicians and pioneers of a vibrant style of illustrative photography and reportage. Their estimated 700,000 pictures reflect all significant trends in photographic modernism, from the movements known as ‘Neues Sehen’ (New Vision) to ‘Neue Sachlichkeit’ (New Objectivity). Active from the middle of the 1920s, Wolff & Tritschler accompanied key events and developments of their times with their cameras – the building of the autobahns, steamship cruises, the fascination of the Zeppelins, architectural modernism and the Olympic Games of 1936. Not least this broad thematic spectrum, in combination with their eye for the moment, a passion for seeing and showing, and a clear commitment to the camera as a medium for communication in the age of technology, made their oeuvre so exceptional.

Wolff & Tritschler never saw themselves as artists, but rather as reliable providers of a service whose company in Frankfurt embraced all genres of contemporary photography – from idealising calendar pages to modern advertising of consumer goods and from dynamic sports photos to stringently precise architectural photographs. In 1923, Paul Wolff’s photography made an essential contribution to the campaign to preserve the historic centre of Frankfurt and thus gave us a lasting impression of the city as it was in the Middle Ages. At the same time, Wolff & Tritschler stand for iconic images of the New Frankfurt, such as the ‘Zig-zag Houses’, the Great Market Hall or the headquarters of I.G. Farben that are still regularly reproduced in printed form today. Wolff & Tritschler were pioneers in the fields of both emerging colour photography and industrial reportage. As a well-organised part of an age of modern media, the company placed an emphasis on the printed image: in fact, there was hardly a magazine or illustrated periodical around 1930 that did not publish pictures by Wolff & Tritscher. Their bibliography runs to more than 300 titles, with translations into English, French, Italian or Japanese. In summary, the lifework of Wolff & Tritschler is not uncontroversial, which the richly orchestrated exhibition of around 400 items – including previously unseen vintage prints, posters, documents, magazines and books – sees more as an opportunity to present Wolff & Tritschler as a ‘phenomenon’ embedded in the history of Germany around 1930.

The extensive exhibition catalogue features contributions by Sabine Hock, Randy Kaufman, Hans-Michael Koetzle, Kristina Lemke, Günter Osterloh, Tobias Picard, Gerald Piffl, Shun Uchibayashi, and Thomas Wiegand.
Hans-Michael Koetzle (ed.): Dr. Paul Wolff & Tritschler: Light and Shadow – Photographs from 1920 to 1950, 464 pages, approx. 1,000 illustrations, hardcover, Kehrer Verlag Heidelberg, 78 EUR. ISBN 978-3-86828-880-3 (German edition) / ISBN 978-3-86828-881-0 (English edition)


Eyes wide open! 100 years of Leica photography

Previous exhibition – ended on 9 June 2019

The museum presents the exhibition ‘Eyes wide open! 100 years of Leica photography’ in June, before the official opening of the museum. Following a successful tour through prominent museums across Europe, the exhibition has now reached its final destination, the Ernst Leitz Museum in Wetzlar. Visitors to the exhibition will see unique and iconic pictures, impressive contemporary documents and magical moments in the history of photography. The works on show include photographs by René Burri, Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bruce Davidson, William Eggleston, Lee Friedlander, Barbara Klemm, Joel Meyerowitz, László Moholy-Nagy and Alexander Rodchenko.

‘Eyes wide open! 100 years of Leica photography’ explores the radical changes and the visual revolution in the world of photography that was triggered by the invention of the light, compact and extremely mobile ‘Ur-Leica’. The exhibition provides clear answers to how 35 mm photography changed our ways of seeing the world from an artistic and sociohistorical point of view in the 20th century. In 15 chapters, the exhibition spotlights various aspects of 35 mm photography from its beginnings until the present day – from journalistic strategies and documentary approaches to examples of freestyle artistic imagery. The exhibition simultaneously provides insights into the history of technological advances and developments relevant to the art of photography.