Chasing Stories: ‘Eyes wide open! 100 years of Leica photography’ featuring Fred Herzog The stories behind the images, by curator Hans-Michael Koetzle at Eyes Wide Open! in Madrid

Following its enormous success in Germany, Austria, Belgium and Portugal the spectacular exhibition ‘Eyes Wide Open! 100 years of Leica photography’ is now visiting Spain on the next stop of its tour and can be seen in Madrid from May 11th to September 10th, 2017. More than 400 original prints are being shown in Madrid. Photographs by Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Nick Út, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Robert Lebeck, Julia Baier and François Fontaine document significant moments in the history of art and culture from 1914 to the present day. The exhibition showcases significant moments of the past century of Leica photography. Chasing Stories are written by curator Hans-Michael Koetzle and the exhibition will take place at Espacio Fundación Telefónica in Madrid.

Fred Herzog: Main Barber

Vancouver, 1968

Taking pictures of something as banal as a barber shop, and in colour no less – now that took courage.  Colour was expensive. Only select laboratories were able to manage the complicated developing procedure. Kodachrome, a preferred, colour-saturated material, was not very sensitive. At best, the resulting slides could be projected on a wall. For these reasons the majority of active photographers continued working in black and white. Aesthetically-speaking, this kept you on the safe side – especially after such reputed photographers as Walker Evans and Henri Cartier-Bresson had condemned colour photography as vulgar and inartistic. However, in a time when the world was becoming increasingly colourful, gaudy and vibrant, was it not possible that the vulgar, the common place, the very banal was crying out for colour? Indeed, in the sixties, a new, experimental generation emerged eager to explore the world with a Leica – in colour.

Artists like William Eggleston, Steven Shore, and Joel Meyerowitz have long been known for making careers out of photography. By comparison, the discovery of works by Fred Herzog is comparatively recent; yet he is now considered a pioneer of artistic colour photography. Herzog, born in Germany but Canadian by choice, had been photographing his adopted homeland since the 1950s. He was a classic flâneur, drifting along, preferring to let the right moment come naturally rather than looking for sensationalism. Henri Cartier-Bresson had been doing the same thing – just in black and white. One person remembers that Fred Herzog, a scientific photographer by profession, must have spent literally thousands of evenings roaming the neighbourhoods, taking photographs. An artist both humble and obsessed, who now gets the recognition he deserves – better late than never. “Photography,” he says, “has nothing to do with the courses you have taken and the people you work with. Photography is how you see and how you think who you are. And your ambitions. That is the important thing.” Henri Cartier-Bresson once said that photographing was a matter of successfully bringing together the heart, eye and mind. Fred Herzog, the 87 year-old Vancouver resident, took this advice to heart – while never forgetting colour in the process.

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