Lothar Wolleh

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Self-portrait in front of the St. Peter's Basilica, 1964

Lothar Wolleh (January 20, 1930 – September 28, 1979) was a well-known German photographer.

Until the end of the sixties, Lothar Wolleh worked as a commercial photographer. He took portraits of international contemporary painters, sculptors and performance artists. Altogether, he photographed about 109 artists, including known personalities such as Georg Baselitz, Joseph Beuys, Dieter Roth, Jean Tinguely, René Magritte, Günther Uecker, Gerhard Richter, Edward Kienholz, Otto Piene, and Christo.[1]

Life[edit]

Lothar Wolleh spent his youth in a Germany stamped by war and Nazism. In the years from 1946 to 1948 he studied "concrete painting"[clarification needed] in the elementary school class at the Hochschule für angewandte Kunst in Berlin-Weißensee.

As a young man, he was arrested by the Russian occupying forces on suspicion of spying, and was condemned to 15 years forced labour and underground mining in Siberia. After serving 6 years at the Russian punishment camp Vorkuta, he was able to return to Berlin due to successful negotiations concerning German prisoners of war.

After his return from prison, from 1956 to 1957 Wolleh obtained an education in the Lette-Verein, a continuation school for photography, design and fashion in Berlin. He took part in a regular monthly recovery program of the World Council of Churches for war-disabled youth. This program made it possible for him to visit the Swedish island of Gotland in 1958, which was a motivation for his lifelong strong affinity towards Sweden, its culture, landscape and people.

From 1959 to 1961, Wolleh studied at the Folkwangschule für Gestaltung in Essen. One of his teachers was the German photographer Otto Steinert.

Cover : Lothar Wolleh, Das Konzil, II Vatikanisches Konzil (The Council, Vatican II Ecumenical Council), Stuttgart 1965

In his first years as a freelance photographer, he was most successful in advertising, recruiting customers such as Deutsche Bundesbahn or Volkswagen. In 1965, he photographed the Second Vatican Council in Rome. After that, he collaborated with Emil Schmitz to make the documentary Das Konzil, II Vatikanisches Konzil. In 1975 he photographed the Jubilee celebration, and published the photographic folios Das Konzil (1965) and Apostolorum Limina (1975).

In the late 1960s, at the request of his friend the German painter Günther Uecker, Wolleh began to systematically portray more than one hundred international well known painters, sculptors, and Actionists.[2][3] Among those photographed were Gerhard Richter, Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely.

Out of this project several comprehensive photobook-projects evolved:

  • 1970- UdSSR (USSR)
  • 1972- Art Scene Düsseldorf
  • 1972- Apostolorum Limina
  • 1973- Das Unterwasserbuch (The Underwater Book, together with Joseph Beuys.)

Work[edit]

Lothar Wolleh had a very individual style with strict principles in his photo work. He used a characteristic square format for his images, with mostly symmetrical compositions. Throughout his career, Wolleh made portrait photos of at least 109 artists.

In 2007, the comprehensive retrospective Lothar Wolleh – Eine Wiederentdeckung: Fotografien 1959 bis 1979 (Lothar Wolleh - A Rediscovery: Photographs 1959 to 1979) was shown in Germany at Kunsthalle Bremen, Stadtmuseum Hofheim, Kunstmuseum Ahlen and the Deutschherrenhaus Koblenz.[4]

Wolleh's photograph of René Magritte and his wife is said to have inspired Paul Simon to compose the ballad "Rene And Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After The War".

Exhibitions (Selection)[edit]

  • 1962: Otto Steinert und Schüler. Fotografische Ausstellung, Gruppenausstellung in der Göppinger Galerie, Frankfurt/Main
  • 1964: Farbige Fotografie. Bilder aus dem Vatikan, Einzelausstellung: Schatzkammer des Essener Münsters. Die Ausstellung wurde vom Essener Bischof Hengsbach (am 21. März 1964) eröffnet
  • 1965: Zyklus von Farbfotos zum römischen Konzil, Einzelausstellung in der Galerie Valentin, Stuttgart
  • 1980: Lothar Wolleh: Künstlerbildnisse. Kunstobjekte, Photographien, Einzelausstellung der Künstlerporträts in der Städtischen Kunsthalle Düsseldorf
  • 1986: Lothar Wolleh - Das Foto als Kunststück" Einzelausstellung der Lippischen Gesellschaft für Kunst e.V. im Detmolder Schloß
  • 1995: "Lothar Wolleh 1930-1979: Künstlerbildnisse - Kunstobjekte, Photographien“ Kunstmuseum Ahlen
  • 2005–2007: Lothar Wolleh. Eine Wiederentdeckung: Fotografien 1959 bis 1979, Einzelausstellung: Kunsthalle Bremen, Ludwig Museum Koblenz, Kunst-Museum Ahlen, Stadtmuseum Hofheim am Taunus
  • 2006: Joseph Beuys in Aktion. Heilkräfte der Kunst – Gruppenausstellung: museum kunst palast, Düsseldorf
  • 2008: Fotos schreiben Kunstgeschichte – Gruppenausstellung: museum kunst palast, Düsseldorf
  • 2008: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstbibliothek, Unsterblich! Das Foto des Künstlers
  • 2008: Lothar Wolleh: Künstlerportraits Galerie f5,6, München
  • 2009: „Lothar Wolleh: Portraits d'artistes“ Goethe-Institut Paris
  • 2012: "Lothar Wolleh: Joseph Beuys im Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Januar 1971", Ausstellung im Hamburger Bahnhof Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin
  • 2012: “Das Kozil - Fotografien von Lothar Wolleh, Berlin” Bonifatiushaus Fulda
  • 2013: “Lothar Wolleh (1930 - 1979) Das Zweite Vatikanische Konzil im Bild Fotografien” Franz Hitze Haus, Münster

Public Collections[edit]

Gallery[edit]

Publications[edit]

  • 1965: The Council: The Second Vatican Council; Chr. Belser Verlag
  • 1970: UdSSR. Der Sowjetstaat und seine Menschen. (USSR: The Soviet State and its people); Chr. Belser Verlag
  • 1971: Günther Uecker / Lothar Wolleh: Nagelbuch; Verlag Galerie Der Spiegel, Köln
  • 1972: Lothar Wolleh: Art Scene Düsseldorf 1; Chr. Belser Verlag
  • 1973: Das Unterwasserbuch (The Underwater Book, together with Joseph Beuys.)
  • 1975: Lothar Wolleh: Apostolorum Limina; Arcade Verlag, Arcade Verlag
  • 1978: Günther Uecker: Ludwig van Beethovens Leonore. Idee einer Oper; Belser Verlag

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen Düsseldorf (ed.), 1980, p. 8.
  2. ^ Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen Düsseldorf (ed.), 1980, p. 15.
  3. ^ Welti, 1980, p. 38.
  4. ^ Herzogenrath (ed.), 2005

References[edit]

  • Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen Düsseldorf (ed.), (1980). Lothar Wolleh: Künstlerbildnisse – Kunstobjekte. Photographien. Germany: Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen Düsseldorf. 
  • Welti, Alfred (1980). Das Foto als Kunststück. Hamburg: in: Art - Das Kunstmagazin, no. 8 Gruner & Jahr. pp. 38–45. 
  • Herzogenrath, Wulf (2005). Lothar Wolleh – Eine Wiederentdeckung: Fotografien 1959 bis 1979. Bremen: Hauschild. ISBN 3-89757-304-0. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Lothar Wolleh at Wikimedia Commons