“I’ve traveled a lot in my photography life, but to capture an exciting photo, all I really needed to do was step outside the front door, and I did that a lot.”
Berlin-born Robert Lebeck was one of the great German photojournalists. Hierzulande (In this Country) at f³ – freiraum für fotografie brings together a selection of his reportages from Germany from 1955 to 1983.
The synopsis is a photographic gem: the rebellion of a young generation in post-war Germany; East Berliners shopping on Karl-Marx-Strasse in Neukölln before the Wall was built; Kampen on the island of Sylt, which in the 1950s developed from a fishing village into a stomping ground for the rich and beautiful; the release of the last German prisoners of war in 1955 at the Herleshausen border station; impressions of political life in the Bonn Republic.
Lebeck photographed when people kissed, drank and danced, but also when they cried and suffered. With his charismatic gift for quiet observation, he got close to people. For Deutschland im März (Germany in March), he set out without a destination or concrete plan in 1983 – and found his subjects: exuberantly celebrating carnival revellers, a dying forest in Swabia, hunger and poverty at the port of Hamburg, an old lady scrutinizing underwear on sale. With his photographs, Robert Lebeck documented the small and large scenes of everyday life and thus captured a piece of contemporary history.
It was precisely the work in Germany that challenged the photographer: “However, to extract a strong image from the everyday and the familiar requires work and the ability to abstract. Images of home are difficult.” Lebeck’s photographs have lost none of their topicality.
Robert Lebeck, born March 21, 1929 in Berlin; † June 14, 2014 in Berlin. A self-taught photographer, he worked as a photojournalist for numerous journals and magazines from 1952. In 1991, the German Photographic Society (DGPh) awarded him the Dr.-Erich-Salomon-Prize, and in 2002 he received the Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography in New York. His photographs were first presented in a museum setting in 1962 at the Hamburg Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, and numerous exhibitions followed.
Robert Lebeck – Hierzulande (In this Country)
September 8 – November 19, 2023
f³ – freiraum für fotografie
10179 Berlin, Germany