Roswitha Hecke

Secret Views. Photos from 1964 to date

5 October 2007 to 6 January 2008

Poster of the exhibition “Roswitha Hecke: Secret Views”

Poster of the exhibition “Roswitha Hecke: Secret Views”

Design: Steenbrink Vormgeving, Berlin

The Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin is showing a multi-faceted retrospective of the work of the photographer Roswitha Hecke. Her “secret views” of foreign cities and countries, of unfamiliar milieus and familiar faces, reflect her “secret view” of the art of photography: affection for the subjects, a sense of the right angle, an ability to share feelings of amazement or amusement, and an unobtrusive proximity.

For Roswitha Hecke, who was born in Hamburg in 1944, photography is both a profession and a calling. She began her apprenticeship as a photographer at the age of 18. Three years later, having completed her training, she met the theatrical director Peter Zadek. During the seven years of their relationship Roswitha Hecke photographed Zadek’s productions exclusively. This was followed by shots of many other stage productions and films, including productions by Werner Schroeter, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and, in Paris, Eric Rohmer. Some of Zadek’s theatre work was even documented by Roswitha Hecke later. In 2006 she devoted an exhibition to the director on the occasion of his 80th birthday: “Oh du mein Zadek”.

A constant in Roswitha Hecke’s eventful professional life, which has taken her to many countries, is her friendship with the Bennents, a family of actors whom she has been photographing ever since 1967. Among her portrait studies of many artists, friends and companions, including Paul Bowles, Ingrid Caven, Omar Sharif and Andrés Segovia, the multi-part Bennent cycle constitutes a highlight of the exhibition. Other highlights are her milieu studies and travel documentaries.

Paris gave rise to the cycles “Pigalle – My Street of the Transvestites”, which has just appeared in book form, and Sunday scenes from the Bois de Bologne. The 1970s found her travelling across America – “Quer durch Amerika” – with the writer Wolf Wondratschek, with whom she lived for a number of years. The “dream team” of modern travel documentary published inter alia the book “Menschen-Orte-Fäuste” [People – Places – Fists]. Wondratschek’s love of boxing led the artist to discover her own fascination with capturing the denizens of the boxing milieu with her camera. She is also fascinated by the work of the detective Roy Finer, whose day-to-day life in the Bronx she depicts. “The Homeless on the Bowery” provide yet another subject.

In 1978 she published the book “Liebes Leben” [Love Life] about the Zurich prostitute Irene. It received the 1979 Kodak Prize for Best Photography Book and, in 1982, the Stiftung Buchkunst award for the Most Beautiful Book.

Other trips followed to Barcelona, Italy, Mexico, India and Morocco. In Tangier she spent three adventurous years with her two children. In 2002 Roswitha Hecke set off for St. Petersburg in search of clues to the origin of her family, while at the same time teaching at the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg. Roswitha Hecke lives in Hamburg.


2006 Ruhr-Triennale: “O du mein Zadek”
2005 Galerie Molitoris, Hamburg: “Secret Views” Bennent Family
         Aplanat Galerie für Fotografie, Hamburg: “Secret Views” Roy Finer
         Aplanat Galerie für Fotografie, Hamburg, “Secret Views” Im Dickicht
         der Fäuste _
2004 NORD/LB art gallery, Hanover: “Detective Roy Finer”
2003 Kunstclub Hamburg: “Secret Views” Hamburg for St Petersburg –
         St. Petersburg for Hamburg
2002 Contemporary Art Gallery, Basel: “Pigalle”
         Hamburg, Aussenausstellung in der Speicherstadt: “Secret Views”
2000 Kunsthaus Hanover: “New York City Faces”
1999 Galerie Levy, Madrid: “Liebes Leben”
1998 Kunsthaus Hanover: “Augenlust – Erotische Kunst im 20. Jahrhundert”
1997 Libro Azul, Ibiza: “Liebes Leben” and “Mann für Mann”
1990 Olympus Galerie, Hamburg: “Mann für Mann”
         Prince Gallery, Kyoto: “Liebes Leben”
1980 Fotoforum in der Fabrik, Hamburg: “Liebes Leben”
1978 Galerie Levy, Hamburg: “Liebes Leben”

Organizer: Berliner Festspiele
Sponsored by the Culture Fund of the German Association of Savings and Clearing Banks (DSGV).