With the Agfa Collection, the Museum Ludwig holds not only an extensive collection of photographs from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but also—little known and not yet fully processed—the archives of the Agfa, Leonar, and Perutz advertising departments. As documented by announcements in photography magazines, the companies encouraged their customers to submit negatives, and those whose works they accepted were paid. The negatives and various prints were used to present the quality of the papers, negatives, flashes, and other items in brochures, magazines, and at fairs. Negatives and photographs by Aenne Biermann (1898–1933) have also been found in these collections.
Biermann, who died prematurely in 1933, was represented in groundbreaking exhibitions during her lifetime, such as the international Werkbund exhibition Film und Foto, and was regarded as an avant-garde photographer of the first order with her objective photographs. She photographed her immediate surroundings up until her early death, and these works helped shape modernist photography.
“The world can become optically significant everywhere,” wrote the art historian and patron of the avant-garde Franz Roh in 1930 in the introduction to the photography book Aenne Biermann: 60 Photos. At the same time as Albert Renger-Patzsch, she took close-up photographs of plants and turned a cut-open coconut on a white plate into a nuanced black-and-white study. Her children were also frequent subjects of her striking portraits. The Museum Ludwig is taking the ongoing processing of the Agfa company archive—which merged with the Leonar and Perutz archives in 1964—and a recent purchase of four works by Aenne Biermann as an occasion to present all twenty-four photographs, eleven negatives, and seventeen small-format archive prints by Biermann along with other archival materials for the first time.
Photographer’s Name: Aenne Biermann is the fourth presentation in the photography room, which since 2017 has featured a changing selection of the 70,000 works from the Museum Ludwig photography collection. The photography room is located in the permanent collection on the second floor.