Erich Salomon | Barbara Klemm
Barbara Klemm and Erich Salomon were able to capture otherwise irretrievable moments thanks to their understanding of themselves as journalists. The fact that these contemporary documents are considered art today is owing to the complex and aesthetic design of the images. Klemm and Salomon illuminate political, social and psychological backgrounds and introduce their personal views.
Erich Salomon (1886–1944) was a star photographer and staged himself as such. He worked with cunning and hidden cameras. Nevertheless, Salomon's pictures eschew the sensationalist language of exposé. They show the habits and bearing of the social elite and the everyday business of politics, not their staging. Salomon was a gentleman who photographed other gentlemen. As a reporter, he explored the hitherto unknown world of parliamentary work. His prominence gave him access to the highest circles of power and to the drawing rooms of stars in film, music, literature and the other arts. The end put to this culture by the Nazis, who had been represented in the Reichstag since October 1930, also influenced Erich Salomon’s visual world. The socio-political reportage 'The Prisoners of the World Crisis', written in 1932, is a bleak apprehension of the future.
Many photographs by Barbara Klemm, who was born in 1939, have become an integral part of the collective visual memory of Germans. We are not always aware that these were originally photo journalism. Klemm's photos are also not posed and show real life, although she never used a hidden camera. Thanks to her knowledge of the subject, she can condense photos into a generally valid statement. The reserved nature of the images allows the subjects to appear unperturbed and casual. Klemm often stands at the margin of an event and photographs it shortly before or after the climax. In this way, she circumvents the staging of politics and is able to provide images of great subtlety. Klemm avoids effects. The perfection of her compositions reveals itself only at second glance.
Curator: Andreas Rost, curator and photographer, Berlin