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August Sander: Das Siebengebirge von der unteren Terrasse hin zur Löwenburg, 1922 © Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Sitftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Köln; VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2022

Photographic Concepts and Treasures –
Works from the Collection
Part 1 – Portraiture, Landscape, Botany

February 11 – July 10, 2022

In 2022, Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur celebrates the 25th year of its exhibition program in Cologne’s Mediapark, launched in 1997 under the forward-looking title “Comparative Concepts.” This anniversary offers an occasion to present many works from the collection in two exhibitions, each with its own focus, enabling Die Photographische Sammlung to provide visitors with a broad overview of its holdings.

With over 380 exhibits, the current presentation focuses on the central themes of “Portraiture, Landscape, Botany” as illustrated by the work of 25 historical and contemporary artistic photographers. A second exhibition to follow from September 2 will spotlight the related areas of “Urban Life, Architecture, Industry.” Viewers will discover a variety of links between the two presentations.

The portrait genre will be examined first, based on the work of August Sander, whose archive has provided vital inspiration for the institution’s collection and program concept. With his iconic series “Citizens of the Twentieth Century,” represented in the current show by over 50 original prints, Sander took the photographic portrait in a new and innovative direction as a method of factual documentary. Compiled in the first half of the last century and consisting of hundreds of images, this work still has a singular standing to this day as an enormously multifaceted oeuvre following a predefined concept that was implemented step by step starting in the mid-1920s. The series reflects fundamental new challenges in dealing with the medium, as well as aspects of the individual and group portrait – considerations that are a core component of Die Photographische Sammlung.

The portraits in the collection for example inquire into the relationship between the individual and society, exploring questions of identity and of social, family, and professional circumstances and relationships, and thereby providing a glimpse of various life stages and living conditions. The influence of the ever-changing impulses, possibilities, and synergies over time is very much in evidence here. This connection is particularly vivid in documentary projects that are pursued over longer periods. They show how individuals are continuously shaped by the respective cultural environment. This circumstance is reflected not only in the image they have of their own lives but also in how they respond to their life realities.

Accordingly, the subject areas of landscape and botany are connected with the portrait on many levels. Like portraiture, landscape as both a human habitat and economic and cultural realm reflects temporal phenomena. Botanical studies that are rendered like portraits may come to life as naturalistic individuals or in other cases allude to the world of aesthetics and sculpture.

By offering an opportunity to compare and contrast various photo series, the exhibition compellingly underscores how the unifying criterion of a factual documentary approach accompanied by a defined concept has always been a leitmotif for the activities of Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur. A concentration on this specific current in photography is what defines the collection’s distinctive profile. Rather than representing a cross-section of the history of photography, the aim is to emphasize photographic visions that creatively guide traditional approaches onto new terrain in order to lend them current and future pertinence.

Featuring photographs by Eugène Atget, Lawrence Beck, Laurenz Berges, Karl Blossfeldt, Ursula Böhmer, Christian Borchert, Natascha Borowsky, Paul Dobe, Hans Eijkelboom, Folkwang-Auriga Verlag, Bernhard Fuchs, Candida Höfer, Fred Koch, August Kotzsch, Andreas Mader, Francesco Neri, Simone Nieweg, Gabriele and Helmut Nothhelfer, Albert Renger-Patzsch, Andrea Robbins/Max Becher, Judith Joy Ross, Martin Rosswog, August Sander, Oliver Sieber, Antanas Sutkus, Jerry L. Thompson, and Albrecht Tübke.

Part 2 of Works from the Collection – Urban Life, Architecture, Industry:
September 2, 2022 – January 8, 2023.

Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur, Im Mediapark 7, 50670 Cologne, tel.: +49 221/888 95 300, email: photographie@sk-kultur.de, www.photographie-sk-kultur.de

Admission: €6.50 (reduced €4), free the first Monday of the month!

Opening hours: Daily except Wednesdays from 2 to 7 pm
Closed February 24 to March 2, 2022 (Carnival) and April 15, 2022 (Good Friday), open on all other holidays

Please observe the latest coronavirus regulations with the current access and hygiene rules.
Public tours in German (English on request) take place weekly on Sundays at 3 pm.


Photographs by August Sander at the
Centre Pompidou in Paris –

/ Allemagne / Années 1920 / Nouvellle Objectivité / August Sander

Mai 11 – September 5, 2022

further information...»»


August Sander Award 2022

The winner is....»»

To the Shortlist...»»


Our exhibition is open daily from
2-7pm, closed on Wednesdays. Admission € 6.50, reduced € 4.00.

We ask that you wear a protective medical mask and observe the minimum distances.

We look forward to your visit!


Exhibition note external:

Cultural Landscape Lower Rhine – Düsseldorf Rhine Port
Photographs by August Sander and Bernd & Hilla Becher

An exhibition of Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur, Cologne, in cooperation with Studio Becher and the state capital Düsseldorf.

Kunstarchiv Kaiserswerth, Düsseldorf

January 15 until May 29, 2022

further information...»»