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Pinakothek der Moderne : Sammlung Moderne Kunst : Friedrich Seidenstücker : Life in the City


In a special exhibition, the Ann and Jürgen Wilde Foundation is showing more than 120 works by the photographer Friedrich Seidenstücker together with numerous documents from its collection.

Friedrich Seidenstücker (1882–1966) is considered one of the most important chroniclers of everyday life in Berlin during the Weimar Republic. His atmospheric photographs of life in the city tell of incidental events and occurences: of simple pleasures on a Sunday and the difficulties of everyday life, of children’s games on the streets and the comings-and-goings at stations and in the zoo. Seidenstücker takes a tongue-in-cheek and often humorous look at people and life in the metropolis. However, his photographs of workers such as coachmen and hawkers, porters and newspaper vendors also tell of the hardships of life in a big city and, in the backgrounds and at the edges of his pictures, he often shows the extremes of social reality in the interwar years.

Seidenstücker began taking photographs in the zoo while still a student of engineering and sculpture in Berlin. Around 1923 he was given an official photographer’s pass for the zoological garden and decided to make his living from photography. A small Patent Etui camera for negatives measuring 9 x 12 cm enabled him to take photographs unobtrusively and he soon started with his first pictures outside the zoo on the streets of Berlin. He offered his images to publishing houses in Berlin and, in 1930, was employed as a freelance photojournalist at Ullstein Verlag. Over the next few years he published his photographs in numerous illustrated papers and magazines such as the ‘Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung,’ ‘Die Dame’, ‘die neue linie’, ‘Der Querschnitt’, ‘Uhu’ and the ‘Vossische Zeitung’.

Seidenstücker continued to meet requests for images for publication from his archive well into the 1950s. However, after World War II, he never managed to latch on to his journalistic success of the late 1920s and 1930s. His work slipped into oblivion after his death in 1966. It is thanks to vigilant historians, collectors and archivists that his œuvre was saved and can be seen by the public once again today. The collectors Ann and Jürgen Wilde acquired a number of original photographs by Seidenstücker in the early 1970s. Through exhibitions and publications they committed themselves to the rediscovery of the photographer’s works. In addition to the archives of the artists Karl Blossfeldt and Albert Renger-Patzsch and an outstanding collection of modernist photographs, more than 200 original photographs by Friedrich Seidenstücker were incorporated in the Ann and Jürgen Wilde Foundation that has been affiliated to the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen since 2010.

The concept for the exhibition ‘Friedrich Seidenstücker. Life in the City’ was devised in 2021 by the Ann and Jürgen Wilde Foundation at the invitation of the Käthe Kollwitz Museum in Cologne and is now being shown at the Pinakothek der Moderne in an expanded form.

Curator: Simone Förster, Chief Curator Ann and Jürgen Wilde Foundationücker-life-city


Friedrich Seidenstücker : Life in the City
26 May–24 September 2023
Pinakothek der Moderne
Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen
Richard-Wagner-Straße 1 | 80333 München

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