Heinrich Heidersberger
  • Introduction

  • Bio

  • Exhibitions

  • Publications

  • Links


In the late 1940s, Heinrich Heidersberger shot his iconic nude series Kleid aus Licht (German for “Dress of Light”) for the magazine Stern, which Henri Nannen had recently founded. This series – which caused outrage in prim post-war Germany – is now viewed as one of the classics of photographic art.

The idea was as simple as it was spectacular: Using a projector he fashioned out of a cooking pot, he covered naked bodies with spots and stripes of light. In doing so, he combined nude photography and experimental photography in ways never seen before. Heidersberger’s “dresses” of light reveal, above all, the photographer’s passion for the phenomenon of light, a theme he explores further in his later work, Rhythmographien (“Rhythmographies”). Heidersberger came to photography by chance. In 1928 he moved to Paris to study painting with Fernand Léger. Walking through a flea market, he stumbled across an old wooden camera. It was, as he says, “a sign from fate”.

Marc Peschke

Heinrich Heidersberger , who died in 2006 at the age of 100, has his place among the most important German photographers of the second half of the 20th century. Seminal images in the fields of architecture and advertising mark his complex life’s work, and his name as an artist is of great repute as well. An exceptional photographer of the modernist aesthetic, Heinrich Heidersberger knew exactly how to combine the documentary approach of photography with modernist ideas. In his photographs he combines function and visual aesthetics, incorporating economic, technical, and social aspects into his perfectly balanced pictures. The aesthetic ideas of modernism were influenced by the notion of structure. Heidersberger’s photographs open our understanding of these structural laws in a surprising and creative way. In his photographs of post-war architecture of the fifties Heidersberger revealed the aesthetics of modernism, thus presenting them as an interplay of structure and form. Heidersberger’s images have retained their importance in photography, in spite of all of the visual styles and trends that have developed over the last decades.
1906Born in Ingolstadt, Germany
1928-1931Attended Fernand Léger’s art school while in Paris, began working in photography, met Piet Mondrian and Yves Tanguy
1946Began working as a photojournalist, advertising and architectural photographer in Berlin
1957Opened a studio in Brunswick, Germany, started working as a photojournalist for Stern
1961Moved to Wolfsburg, founded the artist’s group “Schloßstraße 8”
2006Passed away in Wolfsburg, Germany

Awards (Selection)

1957Silver Medal, 11th Triennale di Milano, Milan, Italy
1981Lower Saxony Order of Merit
1986City of Wolfsburg Silver Plaque
2003Honorary Citizenship in the City of Wolfsburg

Collections (Selection)

Museum für Photographie, Braunschweig, Germany
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada
Museum für Konkrete Kunst, Ingolstadt, Germany

Solo Exhibitions (Selection)

2013Kleid aus Licht, Petra Rietz Salon, Berlin, Germany
2008Heinrich Heidersberger: Rückkehr zum Aufbruch, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, Germany
2006100 Jahre Heinrich Heidersberger – Ansichten und Strukturen, Städtische Galerie Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, Germany
Heinrich Heidersberger – Werk im Fokus, Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz, Austria
2001Heinrich Heidersberger – Architektur und Rhythmogramme, in focus Galerie, Cologne, Germany
1997Heinrich Heidersberger: Rhythmogramme, Museum für Konkrete Kunst, Ingolstadt, Germany
1984Heinrich Heidersberger, Photographers Gallery, London, UK

Group Exhibitions (Selection)

2015Augen auf! 100 Jahre Leica Fotografie, C/O Berlin, Berlin, Germany
2014Augen auf! 100 Jahre Leica Fotografie, Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
2009Kreuzungspunkte Linz. Junge Kunst und Meisterwerke, Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz, Austria
2005Zwei deutsche Architekturen, Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, Stuttgart, Germany
2004Algorithmische Revolution. Zur Geschichte der interaktiven Kunst, ZKM Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, Germany
2000Zeitgenössische Positionen zur Architekturphotographie, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany
1998Alvare Aalto – Between Humanism and Materialism, MoMA, New York City, USA
1984Image et Imaginaires d´Architecture, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

Books/Catalogs (Selection)

Heinrich Heidersberger: Light Harmonies, Andrew Witt (Ed.), Ostfildern 2014.
Wolfsburg: Bilder einer jungen Stadt, Heinrich Heidersberger, Berlin 2013.
Ästhetik der Moderne: Photographien von Heinrich Heidersberger, Cologne 2007.
Architekturphotographie 1952-72, Heinrich Heidersberger, Göttingen 2000.

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