Opening exhibition of the Fotostiftung Schweiz
15 November 2003 - 8 February 2004
The first exhibition of the Fotostiftung Schweiz in its new premises is dedicated to the work of Yvan Dalain and Rob Gnant. Both photographers made an important contribution to Swiss photojournalism during the 1950s and 60s. Their pictures were devoted primarily to the contradictions of the time: cosmopolitan attitudes versus the homeland idyll, speed frenzy versus stagnation, and la dolce vita versus the plight of the workers. The exhibition combines the rediscovery of their photographs with a homage to the magazine Die Woche (1951-1973), which published a large part of their reportages. The magazine, published by Walter Verlag, Olten, was instrumental in bringing photojournalism to its peak before the advent of the television age.
Both Dalain and Gnant are committed to the tradition of Swiss pre-war reportage photography, following in the footsteps of role models and mentors such as Arnold Kübler and Gotthard Schuh. But with the new platform offered by Die Woche from 1951 on, they soon became the leading representatives of a new photojournalistic style in Switzerland. Like the Zürcher Illustrierte in the 1930s, the Walter Verlag's Die Woche set new standards in the use of the photoreportage under the direction of picture editor Jacques Plancherel. Above all in the 1950s, it succeeded in combining topicality, informative reports, narrative quality, social commitment and excellence of design, thus becoming an attractive forum for the publication and dissemination of photography that was clearly the work of specific authors.
In recent years, the Fotostiftung Schweiz has been engaged in resurrecting little-known pictures in close collaboration with Yvan Dalain and Rob Gnant. The conditions were auspicious: Dalain's entire archives of positives and negatives were integrated in the Fotostiftung's stocks as early as the year 2000, and Gnant carried out his own archiving projects (examination and inventory taking) before making over his oeuvre to the Fotostiftung Schweiz. In the case of Dalain, the support of the Memoriav Association has made it possible to carry out extensive restoration on the endangered work and to exhibition important parts of it in excellent condition.