Hannes Kilian


4 April to 29 June 2009

Poster of the exhibition “Hannes Kilian”

Poster of the exhibition “Hannes Kilian”

Design: Steenbrink Vormgeving, Berlin

Hannes Kilian is one of Germany’s most significant photographers. The Hannes Kilian exhibition consists of about 320 black-and-white photographs representing a cross-section of his work between 1937 and 1987. Kilian’s way of looking at things and his talent for capturing situations and documenting individual destinies in all their complexity are masterly. Kilian did not stage his pictures, but used them to mirror his own very personal perceptions. Many images reveal his great gift for capturing movement with the camera, as is shown by his ballet shots. In addition to impressive photos of bomb damage in Stuttgart, which Kilian took in 1944 despite a ban on taking photos, the exhibition shows scenes from the history of Berlin before and after the Wall. Also on display are pictures which are to be seen in the context of Kilian’s work as a photojournalist. Portraits of politicians such as Ludwig Erhard, Reinhold Maier and Ernst Reuter, of actors like Gina Lollobrigida and Gary Cooper, and of many other artists supplement the exhibition.

Hannes Kilian, born 13 November 1909 in Ludwigshafen on Lake Constance, first attended commercial college before completing a three-year photography course in Switzerland. Following stays in Naples and Paris Kilian returned to Germany in 1938 to work as a free-lance photojournalist. After having been conscripted as a war reporter in 1941, Kilian resumed his free-lance photojournalism four years later, working for such periodicals as Time Magazine, Picture Post, DIE ZEIT, Stuttgarter Illustrierte, Der Spiegel, Stern, Vogue and Bunte.

Apart from documenting the hardships suffered by the population in the post-war period, his reports deal with cultural events, travel and sport. Kilian cherished his independence, preferring freelancing as a photojournalist to a staff job. Starting in the 1960s Kilian made a name for himself as a respected ballet and theatrical photographer. His photos were largely instrumental in making the Stuttgart Ballet world-famous. On his travels through such countries as Spain, Egypt, Russia, Romania, Lebanon and the USA, the photographer recorded landscapes, architecture and the culture of distant lands. Hannes Kilian died in Wäschenbeuren on 1 December 1999, shortly after his 90th birthday. By the time of his death Kilian had published numerous books.

Organizer: Berliner Festspiele. Sponsored by the Culture Fund of the German Association of Savings and Clearing Banks (DSGV).
Curator: Klaus Honnef
Media partners: rbb Inforadio, rbb Kulturradio, rbb Fernsehen
Further information about Hannes Kilian under: www.hannes-kilian.de