Albert Renger-Patzsch’s “Things”

Stapelia variegata, Asclepiadaceae 1923 Albert Renger-Patzsch

A major exhibition of around 190 photographs revisits the work of the German photographer Albert Renger-Patzsch (1897-1966), whose photographs are associated with the “New Objectivity” genre ( to January 21, 2018).  His typologies and industrial landscapes have influenced the documentary style of several generations of photographers including Bernd and Hilla Becher as well as Andreas Gursky.

The retrospective opens with a Renger-Patzsch “selfie” photo taken in 1928 using a reflection in a car headlight. It covers his career from the 1920’s up to the 1960’s with photos of plants taken for “Folkwang/Auriga” and pictures from his seminal book “Die Welt ist Schön” (The World is Beautiful, 1928). It includes the period that began with his move to the Ruhr area, characterized by a prolific production associated with its architecture and industrial landscapes; and finally the post-World War II years when he returns to nature.

Renger-Patzsch was among a group of photographers who felt that photography should be sharply focused and not imitate painterly aesthetics with soft-focus techniques. He observed “There must be an increase in the joy one takes in an object, and the photographer should become fully conscious of the splendid fidelity of reproduction made possible by his technique. Nature, after all, is not so poor that she requires constant improvement.”

Albert Renger-Patzsch, “Les Choses” to January 21, 2018, Jeu de Paume, Paris