Swiss Photobooks from 1927 to the Present

Fotostiftung Schweiz, Winterthur, 22 Oct. 2011 to 19 Feb. 2012
Opening: 21 October from 6 p.m.Guided tours

The Swiss Foundation for Photography (Fotostiftung Schweiz) is marking its fortieth anniversary by presenting a fresh view of Swiss photography – a tour d’horizon covering a range of illuminating photobooks in which not only the great themes of photography are reflected but also the development of photographic styles and modes of expression.

Swiss Photobooks from the 20th century

Since the late 1920s – when it became possible to print photographs in high quality – the book has repeatedly proved itself to be an ideal platform for the presentation of photographic works. Books have not only contributed to the dissemination and transmission of photography but also facilitated the integration of the individual image into a meaningful context or sequence.

Eduard Spelterini, Über den Wolken, Brunner & Co. A.G., Zurich 1928

Barbara Davatz, As Time Goes By, Edition Patrick Frey, Zurich 1999

Andri Pol, Grüezi, Kontrast Verlag, Zurich 2006

The exhibition by the Swiss Foundation for Photography is based on an extensive research project in which hundreds, in part long-forgotten photobooks were brought together and critically examined. The selection of works resulting from this process forms the backbone of this new history of Swiss photography, which is also being published as a book. The publication presents the individual works with extensive picture spreads and texts by 23 authors – a chronological reference work that also traces the process that has seen the photograph change from a document into a means of subjective and artistic expression.

Jakob Tuggener, Fabrik, Rotapfel Verlag, Erlenbach-Zurich 1943

Giorgio von Arb, Leute am Grabserberg, Buchs Druck, Buchs 1988

Andreas Seibert, From Somewhere to Nowhere, Lars Müller Publishers, Baden 2008

With the help of seven thematic areas – homeland, portraiture, mountain photography, the world of work, aerial photography, contemporary history, travel – this exhibition aims at a kind of typology of the Swiss photobook which draws attention to the potential interplay between book and photograph, while also revealing the extent to which modes of expression have altered over the course of time. Concise excerpts from these books exhibited on the walls highlight the basic principle of each photobook – a photograph positioned on a double page still remains an integral part of a larger sequence. The concept, design and reception of photobooks are examined more closely in display cases. A large wall installation is devoted to photobook covers. The photobook is also presented as an object in film form: “reading” illustrated photography books is not just an intellectual but also a sensual act.

Andreas Seibert, From Somewhere to Nowhere, Lars Müller Publishers, Baden 2008

There are another 20,000 publications in the library of the Zentrum für Fotografie. This only special public library in Switzerland dedicated to photography stocks both numerous works by photographers and extensive literature on the history and theory of photography. Online catalogue:

Jakob Tuggener, Fabrik, Rotapfel Verlag, Erlenbach-Zurich 1943

Special event:

Sunday, 20 November, 10.30 a.m., book presentation of Jakob Tuggener's FABRIK, facsimile edition of the original book (1943), Steidl, Göttingen 2011. Martin Gasser in conversation with the publisher Gerhard Steidl and the artist Hans Danuser.

Publication: «Swiss Photobooks from 1927 to the present – A Different History of Photography, ed. by Peter Pfrunder / Fotostiftung Schweiz. Lars Müller Publishers, Baden. 640 pages, 700 illustrations (German, with English and French translations), CHF 98.-

With support from the Federal Office of Culture, Migros-Kulturprozent, george foundation, Kaspar Fleischmann, AVINA STIFTUNG, Georg und Bertha Schwyzer-Winiker-Stiftung, Ernst Göhner Stiftung, Stadt Winterthur, UBS Kulturstiftung, Spendenstiftung Bank Vontobel, Otto Gamma-Stiftung, Georges und Jenny Bloch-Stiftung, Friends of the Fotostiftung Schweiz.