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The Director’s Choice - Albertina Collection of Photography

Category: Exhibition 14. March 2018

Bloom of youth and decay of old age, city and countryside, modernism and tradition, staging and authenticity, pornography and mythology – the key feature of „The Director’s Choice“ at the Albertina museum are the contrasts in the hanging of the pictures.
In the new photography exhibition there are 120 pictures of the Albertina‘s photography collection on display, chosen by director Klaus Albrecht Schröder according to his own taste. His aim was to „bring the photographs into a dialogue.“
The exhibition provides for a new look into the vast photographic collection of the museum, the works give an overlook on different genres, like architecture-, portrait- or landscape photography, as well an outlook on important trends in photography.
In addition to important treasures of the history of photography that were already in the graphical collection of the Albertina since 1850, the museum received two other large inventories: As a permanent loan of the Ludwig foundation for art and science, the archive of the Karl Robert Langewiesche publishing house was handed over, comprising around 13.000 photographs.
The collection of the Education and Research Institute for Graphics was handed over to the Albertina in 2000, also as a permanent loan. It contains 70.000 pictures, 15.000 books, numerous cameras and other photography equipment. Important protagonists of Austrian photography were educated there, like Rudolf Koppitz, Anton Josef Trcka, Karel Novak or Trude Fleischmann, some of their works are also on display in this show.
Due to the intensive collecting activities in the years after the foundation of the photography collection in 1999, further thematic focus points were established, like street photography for example. One of the exponents of street photography, Robert Frank, has been exhibited recently in the Albertina, in this show his work can be viewed in a new context. Other famous works, like the dance photographs by Rudolf Koppitz -reminding of paintings- or the sensual snow landscapes by Wilhelm Angwerer remain to be discovered under the viewpoint of the director‘s choice.
New additions to the collection like Lisette Model,Helen Levitt and Alfred Seiland broaden and complete the exhibition. The realistic representations of Erwin Blumenfeld’s models or the grainy street photographs by William Klein represent a sharp contrast to the carefully staged images by O. Winston Link.
The dialogue between the images pervades the exhibition, from the famous images of Vienna made by the Imperial printing office in the mid-19th century, up to the colourful American street sceneries, like the ones by William Eggleston or Stephen Shore.
Chronology was not in the foreground in this exhibition, it is in the contrasts where some aspects reveal much more about the person behind the camera than about the subject before the camera.
Even though the subjectivity of his selection cannot do justice to the vast variety of the collection, director Klaus Albrecht Schröder is convinced that « Director’s Choice » gives the viewer a chance to practice comparative observation – which, according to Schröder, is just as revealing about the exhibition as about himself.

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