Spreading fear and mayhem in the visual arts.

Heinrich Zille's "Kinder der Strasse" in Berlin

by Suzanne on January 14th, 2008

Frau auf einem Karussellpferd reitend and Aufbau des Standes der "Rosen aus dem Süden" by Heinrich Zille, both summer 1900

German lithographer, artist and photographer Heinrich Zille would have turned 150 this year. His moving, fresh and surprising drawings and photographs of the lives of the Berlin lower classes are the main focus of a retrospective at Akademie der Künste, Berlin (in cooperation with the Stadtmuseum Berlin).

Kinder der Strasse (Street Children - named after a book of 100 collected drawings that Zille published in 1908) is a stunning and instructive contemporary document transmitted by someone who was filled with curiosity and dared to look behind the curtains of early 20th century society.. into backyards and factory canteens - at a time when photography changed from being an experimental scientific tool to a mass medium obsessed with and blinded by glamour and facade.

Zille understood to capture everyday scenes of the less fortunate without being accusatory and without romanticising the hard times of the working classes. He was more than a social critic with a camera, he was first of all a restless artist who arose from a poor background himself and was deeply fascinated and inspired by the richness of the life of the lower classes and the Berlin Milieu - with all its hardship, sadness but also joys and wisdoms.

So if you happen to be in Berlin (lucky you!), don't miss this exhibition. It's open to the public until March 24, 2008, and there's free entry every first Sunday of the month.

Art Magazine feature [NSFW]

From June 22 - August 31, 2008 at Städtische Galerie Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany.