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Fotografien 1946-2002
© René Groebli, Portrait of Aja Iskander Schmidlin

René Groebli »

Fotografien 1946-2002

Pionier der Bewegungs- und Farbfotografie

Exhibition: – 15 Jun 2014

Thu 8 May 18:00


Sihlquai 125
8005 Zürich

+41 44-2402200


Wed+Sun 12-18, Thu-Sat 17-21

Fotografien 1946-2002
© René Groebli, Nude - Torso

René Groebli, Zurich: Photographs 1946-2002
Pioneer of motion and colour photography
Opening: Thursday, 8 May, from 6pm
Exhibition: 9 May to 15 June

Photobastei is devoting an exhibition to Swiss photographer René Groebli (b. 9 October 1927 in Zurich) with a cross-section of his work from 1946 to 2002.
This show of his creative output over six decades features some unknown and previously unexhibited works.

The exhibition features early and classic black and white advertising and personal work – London, and experiments in motion and colour – the Ireland (landscape) and New York (montage) portfolios, and female nudes and portraits.
The exhibition, put together and curated by the artist himself, gives rich insights into Groebli’s oeuvre, and especially into the creative interplay between his free and commissioned work.
This is the biggest show ever devoted to the exceptional 87-year-old artist, who over the last six decades or more has played a pioneering role in shaping major changes in photography.

René Groebli made his name with two works, the dynamic photo essay Magie der Schiene (the Magic of the Tracks, 1949) and the photo essay Das Auge der Liebe (the Eye of Love, 1954), whose nudes created an uproar among critics.
This was pioneering artistic work from Groebli, who after 1953 increasingly concentrated on colour photography, a medium still in its infancy. In his work for industry and advertising he was one of the first to abandon objective representation. Instead he created thematic realms, systematically exploiting blurring, energy and the atmosphere of colour.

He was experimenting with colour distortion, cross-fading and montage long before the digital era and Photoshop. He perfected the dye transfer process and pushed it to its limits. It’s astonishing to see how Groebli’s early experiments in colour pre-empted Pop Art and the aesthetic of Andy Warhol. In 1957 he was named Master of Color in the United States in recognition of his work, and published two pioneering books on the creative and communicative possibilities opened up by modern colour photography (1965: Variation, 1971: Variation 2).

In the late 1970s he returned to the real world of straightforward black and white photography.
His themes were the urban world and the loneliness it threatened to bring modern people, and nature as a safe haven, itself under direct threat. His New York (1999) and Ireland (2000) portfolios express deep scepticism about the future of modern civilisation. These highlights of his later work show once more the great emotional power of his photography, bearing witness to his passionate, untiring search for photographic poetry between black and white and colour, and the emotionally charged and technically perfect image between reality and dream.

A visionary picture from this time shows a burning aircraft that appears to be crashing into the skyline of Manhattan.
Finally, between 2002 and 2004, he published a series of female nudes.
Groebli’s photographs have been shown at countless individual and group exhibitions all over the world. He has published a large number of photo essays and books, and has received many awards for his creative work.
René Groebli lives in Zurich.

Born in Zurich in 1927, René Groebli is a Swiss photographer, a pioneer in motion and colour photography, and a trained documentary film cameraman. In addition to work for industry and advertising he has produced personal artistic photo essays. In 1949 Groebli assured himself a place in the elite of postwar Swiss photographers with a work entitled Magie der Schiene (the Magic of the Tracks). By 1953 Groebli had been admitted to the College of Swiss Photographers. In 1954, publication of the photo essay Das Auge der Liebe (the Eye of Love) triggered critical controversy and brought him further attention. In artistic terms, however, the Eye of Love marked yet another milestone, with the photographer taking a loving, tender look at his wife Rita to create a striking atmospheric complement to the heavy, black steam locomotives of his initial work. In the early 1950s Groebli worked as a reporter for Picture Post and other international magazines. Subsequent to that he had his own studio for industrial and advertising photography. In 1957, the American Color Annual named him Master of Color.
In the early 1980s he did his last work for industry and advertising, returning once more to the expressive possibilities of black and white photography. In 1999, Kunsthaus Zurich showed a representative selection of his photographs from 1946 to 1996.

1951: Swiss federal grant; 1953: Prix d’encouragement; 1960: Swiss advertising association prize and medal for “exemplary advertising design for Bayer”; 1966: Graphics award from the federation of German graphic designers; 1974: Award of excellence for typography, Type Directors Club, New York; 1983: Honorary member of the Swiss association of photographers; 2006: Photo 06, Lifetime Award

Fotografien 1946-2002
© René Groebli, Plane crash / Flugzeugabsturz

René Groebli
«Fotografien 1946-2002»
Pionier der Bewegungs- und Farbfotografie

Ausstellung: 9. Mai bis 15. Juni
Eröffnung: Donnerstag, 8. Mai, ab 18 Uhr

1927 in Zürich geboren, ist René Groebli Fotograf, Pionier der Bewegungs- und Farbfotografie und ausgebildeter Dokumentarfilm-Kameramann. Er arbeitete für die Industrie und die Werbung und realisierte freie künstlerische Fotoessays.1949 sicherte sich Groebli mit seiner Arbeit «Magie der Schiene» einen einen Platz in der Elite der Schweizer Nachkriegsfotografen. Bereits 1953 wird Groebli als jüngstes Mitglied ins Kollegium Schweizer Photographen aufgenommen.1954 publiziert er den viel beachteten Fotoessay «Das Auge der Liebe» und zog damit durch Kritik weiter Aufmerksamkeit auf sich. Künstlerisch aber wurde die Arbeit zu einem weiteren Meilenstein. Diese offenbart den liebevollen und zärtlichen Blick des Fotografen auf seine Frau Rita und wirkt zugleich wie ein atmosphärisches Gegenstück zur Welt der schweren, schwarzen Dampflokomotive seines Erstlingswerks. In den frühen fünfziger Jahren arbeitete er als Reporter für Picture Post und andere internationale Zeitschriften. In den folgenden Jahren besass er ein Studio für Industrie- und Werbe-Fotografie. 1957 ernannte ihn das «American Color Annual» zum MASTER OF COLOR.

In den frühen 80er Jahren beendete Groebli sein Arbeiten in der Industrie- und Werbefotografie und besinnt sich erneut auf die Ausdrucksmöglichkeiten der Schwarzweiss-Fotografie. Im Jahr 1999 zeigte das Zürcher Kunsthaus eine repräsentative Auswahl seiner Fotografien aus den Jahren 1946 bis 1996.

Fotografien 1946-2002
© René Groebli, Burnt trees / verbrannte Bäume
Fotografien 1946-2002
© René Groebli, Blue-green head / Kopf-blau-grün