VIENNA.- In autumn 2008, the Bank Austria Kunstforum will be presenting 270 highlights from the FOTOGRAFIS collection. After two decades the last »FOTOGRAFIS exhibition« was in 1986 international photography is returning to the exhibition rooms on Freyung. In the FOTOGRAFIS collection, started in 1976, the Bank Austria owns one of the earliest and most outstanding collections of photography in Europe. The exhibition FOTOGRAFIS collection reloaded aims to update positions in the history of photography: stylistic strategies of pictorialism and Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) of yore will be placed side by side with recent works, which will augment the exhibition as loans. Alfred Stieglitz for instance enters into dialogue with Andreas Gursky, Albert Renger Patzsch with Candida Höfer and James Welling.
The earliest examples of photography in the collection are from the 1840s, by William Henry Fox-Talbot, »the inventor of photography«, David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson. Fox-Talbot wrote in 1841 that he knew of few things in science that were more astounding than the gradual appearance of the picture on the white paper, concisely expressing the feeling of a new dawn in the early days of this new medium. Travel photographs by Francis Frith and Maxime du Camp and the chronophotography of Eadweard Muybridge have a prominent place in FOTOGRAFIS. When photography began to employ painterly effects in the manner of impressionism, the two media of painting and photography became closer: Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Steichen and Heinrich Kühn represent pictorialism in the FOTOGRAFIS collection. Paul Strand and Edward Weston opened a new chapter of art photography in the 1920s with the concept of »Straight Photography«. Now the centre of attention was the quintessential value of photography: the precise recording of reality in etched and sharply focused chiaroscuro. Simultaneously, avant-garde artists were radically extending the possibilities of photography, especially the Dadaists and constructivists: works by Man Ray, Alexander Rodchenko, Raoul Hausmann and László Moholy-Nagy are highlights of the exhibition. Newspaper report and socialdocumentary photographs play an eminent role in the history of twentieth-century photography, from Weegee to Diane Arbus. Contemporary Austrian positions, for instance VALIE EXPORT and Arnulf Rainer, round off the collection profile.
The word FOTOGRAFIS for a long time meant something only to the experts. Now the exhibition »FOTOGRAFIS collection reloaded« has the aim and ambition to move the existence and structure of this superlative collection of photography back into public focus.