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Exhibition at Museum Ludwig celebrates the eightieth birthday of Benjamin Katz
Installation view of Benjamin Katz. Berlin Havelhöhe, 1960/1961. Museum Ludwig, Köln 2019. Photo: Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln / Nina Siefke.

COLOGNE.- Benjamin Katz became known in the 1980s as a fixture of the art scene in West Germany. He took portraits of artists such as Georg Baselitz, James Lee Byars, A.R. Penck, Cindy Sherman, and Rosemarie Trockel, photographed the bustling art scene at openings, and documented the creation of major exhibitions such as Westkunst in Cologne in 1981, documenta 7 in Kassel in 1982, and von hier aus in Düsseldorf in 1984.

On the occasion of the eightieth birthday of Benjamin Katz (born on June 14, 1939, in Antwerp, Belgium), the Museum Ludwig presents his series of photographs Berlin Havelhöhe (1960/1961), which has never before been shown in its entirety. The series was recently acquired directly from the artist’s archive. Even before Katz devoted himself professionally to photography, he captured his surroundings in 1960 and 1961 during an eighteen-month stay at the Havelhöhe hospital. Suffering from tuberculosis, he spent his time there as a patient and photographed everyday life: his fellow patients, the hospital staff, the buildings built during the Nazi era as an air force academy, and the surrounding area. The photographs represent a socio-historical as well as an artistic and personal document, since they record Katz’s beginnings as a photographer. Berlin Havelhöhe also exemplifies the image of the artist as a young man.

Director Yilmaz Dziewior: “The Museum Ludwig has a large collection of Katz’s portraits of artists spanning several decades. It also includes his extensive documentation of the 1981 exhibition Westkunst as well as photographs from the installation of many exhibitions. I am all the more delighted that we were able to acquire Berlin Havelhöhe, a significant early series by Katz. We would like express our warmest thanks for his trust and for sharing his memories with us.”

The entire series is being shown in the form of forty-one photographs printed in three different sizes and 318 vintage prints mounted on A4 paper. On the first floor, as part of the permanent collection, the Museum Ludwig also presents Katz’s well-known portraits of artists, which he took during his studio visits beginning in the 1980s, including Georg Baselitz, A.R. Penck, Gerhard Richter, and Rosemarie Trockel.

Benjamin Katz: Berlin Havelhöhe, 1960/1961 is the sixth presentation in the photography room, which since 2017 has featured changing selections of the approximately 70,000 works from the Museum Ludwig photography collection. The photography room is located in the permanent collection on the second floor.

An exhibition catalogue has been published by Hirmer Verlag. With texts by Yilmaz Dziewior, Barbara Engelbach, and Benjamin Katz, 160 pages, 73 illustrations, in German and English, €22 (retail price), €20 (museum price).

Curator: Barbara Engelbach

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