Lothar Wolleh (Berlin, 1930 - London, 1979) is a German photographer who became well-known primarily because of his intensive contacts in the international avant-garde art scene. From 1963 to 1979, he portrayed dozens of prominent artists, the first of whom was Lucio Fontana. Based in Düsseldorf, the young photographer first concentrated on the Rhineland art scene, portraying artists such as Günther Uecker (1963), Otto Piene (1964) and Gerhard Richter (1966), without however losing sight of European icons such as René Magritte (1967). His work has such intensity and character that his photographs have often become the most frequently used portraits of his portrayed subjects.
However, to depict Wolleh as a mere reporter or portrait photographer would be a major mistake. The artist's true life’s work is an all-encompassing project that consists of encounters, actions and collaborations. Wolleh is a connecting figure. The portrayed artists themselves also set to work with the photographs that Wolleh sends them. They carry out interventions on the work: Fontana perforates them, Uecker paints on them or drives nails through them, and Richter integrates pictorial fragments taken from the photos into his monumental canvases.
Wolleh’s collaboration with Joseph Beuys eventually proved to be one of the most intense. The artist produced hundreds of images of Beuys, taken during performances, lectures and exhibitions. Together, they also created "das Unterwasserbuch" (The Underwater Book), a publication made of printed PVC sheets, of which one copy can be found on the ocean floor, together with one of Beuys' torches. The individual pages, some of which have been worked on by Beuys, have become highly desirable collectors' items. On the occasion of Joseph Beuys' 100th birthday on 12 May 2021, much international attention is also focused on Lothar Wolleh. In this INBOX exhibition, however, the focus lies on the interaction between Wolleh and the artists who unleashed a true revolution in the arts during the period 1958-1962 in, among others, the Hessenhuis in Antwerp. A selection from the archives of the Lothar Wolleh Estate brings together an impressive series of treated portraits of these Hessenhuis artists.
In addition to collaborative works by Lothar Wolleh and Pol Bury, Lucio Fontana, Vic Gentils, Heinz Mack, Christian Megert, Günther Uecker, Georges Vantongerloo and Jef Verheyen respectively, the exhibition also features photographs that Wolleh took of Armando, Enrico Castellani, Jan Hendrikse, Adolf Luther, Otto Piene, Jan Schoonhoven, J.R. Soto and Daniel Spoerri.
Location: M HKA, INBOX, verdieping 5.