Look here! Toni Schneiders
Singen Art Museum
July 03 to September 18, 2022
Toni Schneiders is one of the style-defining photographers of Germany after 1945. With his subtle photographs, he made a decisive contribution to expanding the visual language of the photographic avant-garde of the 1950s. As a co-founder of the »fotoform« group of photographers in 1949 and as part of the »subjective photographie« movement since 1952, he developed his own pictorial aesthetics that, while maintaining a reference to reality, gave wide scope to individual design and autonomous pictorial reality. With this liberation of photographic expression, Toni Schneiders and his companions established a formal photographic tradition that continues into contemporary photography.
In 2006, the Singen Art Museum presented the last major exhibition of the camera master during his lifetime. Today, after recording and processing Toni Schneiders’ extensive archive and estate at the F.C. Gundlach Foundation in Hamburg, the two cooperation partners are dedicating an overall show to the photographer, who lived on Lake Constance from 1952 until his death in 2006, rediscovering him as a »fotoformer«, as a portraitist, and as a travel and landscape photographer. This retrospective has been made possible both by the cooperation of the photographer's daughter, Ulrike Schneiders, whose knowledge of the oeuvre was of great help in the creation of exhibition and book, and by the scholarly expertise of Sebastian Lux and Franziska Mecklenburg of the F.C. Gundlach Foundation, who are curating the exhibition in cooperation with Christoph Bauer of the Kunstmuseum Singen. Many of Toni Schneiders’ black-and-white photographs have long since become classics of modern photography. In the current show, previously unpublished motifs from the negative archive are also on display.
Relating to reality and, at the same time, the will to create - with this double claim Toni Schneiders takes a mediating position between documentary representation and formal creation. »Simple, clear and true« - these characteristics define any timelessly valid photograph according to Toni Schneiders. Alongside his formal studies, the image of man and travel photography emerge as two central lines of development in his œuvre. Especially his photography of the »fotoform« period is characterized by the focused capture of the subjectively seen objects with a simultaneous condensation into pictorial form. For his precisely composed photographs, he found the beauty of graphic form in the simple things in nature, in landscape and in people's everyday lives. With an unconditionally photographic eye, he selected image details, emphasized lines, contours, and structures, and worked sensitively with available light. In his immediate living environment in the foothills of the Alps and on journeys all over the world, Toni Schneiders captured striking moments of reality and life, whose protagonist could be a person, an object, or a landscape. For all the rigor of his pictorial aesthetics, his motifs always reveal the photographer's sympathy. With humor and sensitivity, he put his life's work into a human perspective. Schneiders resolutely explored the potentials of photography, used tonal gradations from the highest peak light to the deepest core shadow, post-processing in the darkroom and high-contrast printing to create striking images. In contrast to many other representatives of »subjective photography«, however, Schneiders rejected elaborate arrangements or stagings, surreal alienations, darkroom experiments, and abstract photography. Since the 1950s, Toni Schneiders has been creating a new image of the Lake Constance region and the foothills of the Alps, not only with his individual photographs, but also with his photo series published in photo books. The emerging tourism and the upswing of the magazine market opened up rich opportunities for the author-photographer.
In 1999, Toni Schneiders' companion Peter Keetman, with whom he shared a decades-long friendship and a constant exchange on all questions of photography, described Schneiders' attitude as follows: »Toni Schneiders' heartfelt way of dealing with people was and is matched by his reserved modesty. As far as his own work is concerned, and when he takes hold of something and really begins to work with it, the result is - to put it simply - photographic chamber music«.
Singen Art Museum
Tuesday to Friday 14 - 18 h
Saturday to Sunday 11 - 17 h