The expected monograph sheds light on German photographer Lothar Wolleh’s life in and for the arts, on the innovative qualities of his photography and his collaborative projects with artists across Europe.
Capturing the charisma and appeal of German photographer Lothar Wolleh (1930–1979) is not an easy task. It is hardy possible to pigeonhole the man who established a name as tireless promoter of the arts, in the capacity of photographer, editor-publisher and initiator of artists’ projects, of Kunstvermittler and collector. This comprehensive and richly illustrated monograph is devoted to all these aspects, with an emphasis on his highly distinctive and innovative photographic work.
An ‘interpreting’ photographer
Throughout the years, Lothar Wolleh has portrayed over a hundred artists – the cornerstones and best-known parts of his photographic oeuvre, mostly issued in folios and photo-volumes. The range of artists mirrors the richness and diversity of the European avant-gardes, with portraits of Joseph Beuys, Lucio Fontana, René Magritte, Otto Piene, Man Ray, Gerhard Richter, Jan Schoonhoven and Günther Uecker, among others. Capturing the identity of portrayed artists and their work through a lens; Lothar Wolleh was an ‘interpreting’ photographer with a pronounced and highly personal visual language.
And yet, other aspects of Lothar Wolleh’s artistry have remained virtually unexposed, such as his colour photography. Experimental and pioneering in nature, these works reveal his fascination for the properties of colour, and in particular for the formative qualities of light and darkness. Often balancing on the threshold of abstraction and representation, intimate and yet strikingly exact in planning and execution, these works are perhaps closest to the core of Wolleh’s artistic conception.
It is hard not to think of Lothar Wolleh in terms of opposites. At first sight, after all, his colour photography seems to contrast with the restrained imagery in black and white. And his well-advised visual language too, seemed to stand out from his flamboyant personality and his downright dazzling enthusiasm. And it is in this light, that we understand how the hardships of his youth, the devastation of the Second World War and six years of imprisonment in a Soviet Gulag camp, have contributed to a persistency in advocating beauty. With Lothar Wolleh, it seems unjust to separate the one from the other: yesterday’s ‘shadows’ and the will to endure, to create and to ‘step into the light’.
Antoon Melissen (editor)
300+ pages, approx. 250 ills., hardcover,
In cooperation with the Lothar Wolleh Estate
– Based on new, international research
– With previously unpublished works
– Emphasis on the international context
– Friends and influences; Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter, Günther Uecker, a.o.