F.C. Gundlach

The Photographic Work

20 November 2009 to 14 March 2010

Poster of the exhibition “F.C. Gundlach. The Photographic Work”

Poster of the exhibition “F.C. Gundlach. The Photographic Work”

Design: Steenbrink Vormgeving, Berlin

“Mode ist immer ein Ausdruck von Zeitgeist, vielleicht sogar der beste Indikator”
[Fashion always is a manifestation of Zeitgeist, perhaps even it’s best indicator.]

F.C. Gundlach

From November 2009 the Martin-Gropius-Bau presents the definitive retrospective of F.C. Gundlach’s extensive photographic work with the exhibition “F.C. Gundlach – Photographic Work”. F.C Gundlach is one of the most famous fashion photographers worked for the most important magazines and publications from the middle of the 1950’s to 1990. Among other many famous pictures the most comprehensive presentation of F.C. Gundlach’s work shows many fameless facets of F.C. Gundlach’s work to date. After years of research, the curators Klaus Honnef, Hans-Michael Koetzle, Sebastian Lux and Ulrich Rüter present for the first time numerous unknown images as vintage prints alongside F.C. Gundlach’s famous photo icons.

The intention of the exhibition is to present the unique aesthetics of F.C. Gundlach’s photography, his roots in photojournalism, his focus on series and sequences, his narrative approach. Furthermore, the exhibition alludes to social and cultural issues over several decades.

The exhibition includes the experimental photography of his early years, especially those from Paris during the 1950’s, his remarkable portraits of German and international movie stars and film-directors as well as F.C. Gundlach’s early photo reportages and photographs of children.

For the first time, F.C. Gundlach’s work for magazines is presented on a larger scale. Magazine covers and a comprehensive collection of double-page spreads show his photographs within the magazines’ context, especially in Film und Frau (1951–1965) and Brigitte (1963–1986). Among photographs, title pages and a comprehensive selection of double pages of his pictures will be shown in context of the magazines. The exhibition illustrates that Gundlach has always been open to technical innovations in photography (35mm cameras, flash or color photography).

His fashion productions took him both to Paris and New York and to Egypt and Morocco. This multiple printed photographs were been to special motifs in his work. F.C. Gundlach’s impressive travel reportages occurred amongst others in Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Japan, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and will be present in Berlin the first time. Original documents of his vita illustrate the life of the photographer. Moreover, the show illustrates the internationalization of his work due to extensive traveling. Documents and archival material give a brief outline of the artist’s life and work.

F.C. Gundlach himself has comment his functioning in a 60 min. interview-film, which was exclusively produced for the exhibition by filmmaker Reiner Holzemer. The exhibition presents: a life’s work of photography between documentary representation and staged artificiality, between practical and experimental photography.

F.C. Gundlach, born in 1926 in Heinebach (Hesse), is considered the most significant fashion photographer of the young Federal Republic of Germany. For more than four decades of fashion photography, he wrote fashion history with his work and shaped the perception of fashion in Germany decisively. He set the stage for the ever-changing vogues, defined postures and gestures of models, chose props and locations and thus reflected the ideals of beauty and the history of fashion against a changing social background. F.C. Gundlach worked on assignment for various magazines. His first publications were reportages, theatre- and movie reports. Through his work for the magazine Film und Frau he became a fashion photographer. His photographs have been published in many distinguished magazines such as: Deutsche Illustrierte, Stern, Revue, Quick, Elegante Welt, Film und Frau, Annabelle, Brigitte, Twen and Deutsch. For Brigitte alone F.C. Gundlach photographed more than 5500 pages as well as about 180 magazine covers.

Not only a photographer, but also a passionate promoter of photography:

In 1967, F.C. Gundlach founded CC (Creative Color GmbH) with British and American partners, in 1971 PPS. (Professional Photo Service). Both companies offered service to photographers including black-and-white and color labs, an equipment rent-service, rent-studios and a photo bookstore. In 1975 he founded the PPS. Galerie F.C. Gundlach, one of the first photo galleries in Germany dedicated to photography only. The gallery presented about 100 thematic and monographic exhibitions until 1992. Gundlach is professor at the Berlin University of the Arts and curator of photographic exhibitions, many of them dedicated to fashion photography. In 2000, F.C. Gundlach committed his extensive photographic collection and his own photographic work into the F.C. Gundlach Foundation. The Foundation will preserve and present. In 2003, F.C. Gundlach was appointed founding director of the House of Photography in the Deichtorhallen by the Senate of Hamburg and dedicated his collection “The human image in photography” as a permanent loan. He also initiated the Triennial of Photography. With the F.C. Gundlach retrospective as the opening exhibition of the Fourth Triennial, the show honors its founder.

The Curators

Klaus Honnef, born in 1939 in Tilsit. Publicist and exhibition organizer. Since 1968 curator of “Gegenverkehr”, Aachen (until 1970), director of “Westfälischer Kunstverein”, Münster (until 1975), 1974-1999 Chief Executive of exhibition “Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn”, co-organizer of documenta 5 and documenta 6, Kassel. 1980–2004 Professor for Theory of Photography, School of Arts and Design, Kassel. Numerous exhibitions and catalogues, recently Heinz Hajek-Halke. Form aus Schatten und Licht (2005), Martin Munkacsi (2005), Deutsche Fotografie im 20. Jahrhundert (2003) and Von Körpern und anderen Dingen (2003) in co-operation with Gabriele Honnef-Harling.

Hans-Michael Koetzle, born in 1953 in Ulm. Author, publicist and exhibition organizer. 1996–2007 Chief editor of the magazine Leica World. Numerous exhibitions, recently Theodor Hilsdorf (2007), René Burri (2004) and twen – Revision einer Legende (1995). Numerous publications of books, recently Lexikon der Fotografen (2002), Willy Fleckhaus (1997), Photo Icons (2001) and Das Foto – Kunst- und Sammelobjekt (1997).

Sebastian Lux, born in 1971 in Göttingen. Art historian and literary scholar. Since 2003 research assistant and curator of the F.C. Gundlach Foundation. Collaboration in exhibitions and catalogues, recently Martin Munkacsi (2005) and Bilder machen Mode (2004).

Ulrich Rüter, born in 1965 in Hamburg. Art historian and lecturer for History of Photography. Since 2001 research assistant of the F.C. Gundlach Foundation. Collaboration in exhibitions and catalogues, recently Die Pose als Körpersprache (2007) and Martin Munkacsi (2005).


The monographic book accompanying the exhibition is published in German and English by the famous publisher of photographic books, Gerhard Steidl. It covers four decades of creative power of one of the most distinguished German post-war fashion photographers.
This volume is the result of several years of research presenting about 300 photographs, including many key works as well as various unknown photographs never shown before. Facsimiles of periodicals, magazines and booklets reflect F.C. Gundlach’s work in editorials and advertisements. The book presents the image of a great photographer who was capable of defying the “clotted discrepancy between the sterile and the useful” (“geronnenen Gegensatz des zweckfreien und des zweckvollen”; Th. W. Adorno) of pictorial art.
Edited by Klaus Honnef and Hans-Michael Koetzle in co-operation with Sebastian Lux and Ulrich Rüter. Steidl Göttingen, 2008. Cloth binding, 448 pages, € 49.80.

Organizer: Berliner Festspiele. An exhibition of the F.C. Gundlach Foundation Hamburg in cooperation with Haus der Photographie, Deichtorhallen Hamburg.
Curators: Klaus Honnef, Hans-Michael Koetzle in collaboration with Sebastian Lux, Ulrich Rüter
Partners: FALKE, Pixel Grain, BREAD & butter, 14 oz.
Media partners: rbb Inforadio, rbb Kulturradio, rbb Fernsehen, Der Tagesspiegel, Brigitte