Back Light. Kurt Blum – Photographs

Fotostiftung Schweiz, Winterthur
9 June – 14 October 2012 
Opening: 8 June 2012, 6 pm

Kurt Blum (1922-2005), who was born in Berne, was one of the outstanding Swiss photographers of the post-war era. In addition to numerous reportages for illustrated magazines, as of the 1950s he also did free artistic and experimental works which were presented to a wider public in exhibitions and publications. The focal points of his oeuvre were the artists’ portraits he took as of the late 1940s, larger work groups on the themes of dance and opera, and an intense involvement through photography and film with the world of industry and labour. Blum always regarded himself as an artist, however, and strove for photography to be recognised as an independent art medium. Above and beyond the documentary aspect, he sought subjective expressiveness, the atmospherically dense moment, the consciously composed photographic print. Blum thus belonged to the avant-garde of Swiss photography, so it is not surprising that he also played a role in the “subjective photography” circle around Otto Steinert in Germany in the early 1950s.

Twist, New York 1962
© Kurt Blum / Fotostiftung Schweiz

The exhibition “Back Light. Kurt Blum – Photographs”, curated by Martin Gasser, will show, in addition to a small number of new prints from original negative, exclusively vintage prints from the Kurt Blum Archive, including a series of large-format prints which Blum made for the exhibitions “Photographie als Ausdruck” (Helmhaus Zurich 1955) and “Fotoexperimente” (Kunstmuseum Solothurn, 1997). Furthermore, contact sheets, book maquettes and other documents will provide insight into the Kurt Blum Archive, of which the Fotostiftung Schweiz has been in charge of since 2008.

Further information (PDF)

Cornigliano steel works, Genoa ca. 1960
© Kurt Blum /
Fotostiftung Schweiz

Oktoberfest, Munich 1954
© Kurt Blum / Fotostiftung Schweiz

Alberto Giacometti, Paris 1954
© Kurt Blum / Fotostiftung Schweiz

Accompanying publication: Gegenlicht. Kurt Blum – Fotografien, edited by the Fotostiftung Schweiz for Limmat Verlag, with texts by Nanni Baltzer, Martin Gasser, Sylvie Henguely, Thilo Koenig and Fred Zaugg (256 pages, c. 200 Duplex and colour illustrations).

Accompanying event

On 12 September 2012, 7.30 pm, a selection of Kurt Blum’s films will be shown, including his prize-winning experimental film L’uomo il fuoco il ferro (Symphonie in Stahl) with music by Sergei Prokofiev, 1960. In collaboration with Lichtspiel / Kinemathek Bern.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012, 12.15 pm
Bildfokus / Image in Focus with Sabine Münzenmaier:
“Symphonie in Stahl: zu Kurt Blums Industriefotografien”
Admission CHF 10.– / 8.– (Fotostiftung Schweiz)
Followed by lunch in the Bistro George (optional).

Tuesday, 4 September 2012, 12.15 pm
Bildfokus / Image in Focus, with Astrid Näff:
“Bern – Paris – New York: Kurt Blum am Puls der Kunstwelt”
Admission CHF 10.– / 8.– (Fotostiftung Schweiz)
Followed by lunch in the Bistro George (optional).

With the support of: Bundesamt für Kultur, Migros-Kulturprozent, Lotteriefonds des Kantons Bern, Ernst Göhner Stiftung, Memoriav, Stanley Thomas Johnson Stiftung, Landis & Gyr Stiftung, Stadt Bern, Burgergemeinde Bern, Sandoz-Familienstiftung, Stiftung Erna und Curt Burgauer