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Konrad Rufus Müller's The Chancellors: From Adenauer to Merkel on View at C/O Berlin
Photographer Konrad Rufus Müller points at a photo of the Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, during the presentation of the exhibition The Chancellors: Fom Adenauer to Merkel, Photo: EFE/Jens Kalaene.

BERLIN.- C/O Berlin, International Forum For Visual Dialogues, presents the exhibition The Chancellors – From Adenauer to Merkel by Konrad Rufus Müller through October 4, 2009.

Konrad Rufus Müller is the only photographer to have created portraits of every chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany—from Konrad Adenauer to Angela Merkel. He gets close to powerful people but without ever losing his distance as a chronicler. In these works, he shows the eight German chancellors beyond the limits of familiar documentary and press photography, presenting a deeply personal view of the men and women behind the political position. His empathetic photographic studies are physiognomic still-lifes that capture in a unique way the furrows of age and the traces of life engraved in their faces.

It was the young photographer’s fascination with Adenauer’s face that led to his unforgettable series following the footsteps of the powerful. For over 40 years, Müller accompanied Ludwig Erhard, Kurt-Georg Kiesinger, Willy Brandt, Helmut Schmidt, Helmut Kohl, Gerhard Schröder, and Angela Merkel, observing these politicians closely between official appointments and private life, and thus experiencing at close range how, over the years, the weight of responsibility and loneliness etches it mark deep into their faces. “These faces are very familiar to us. And we believe that we really do know them all. With my photographs, I try to rediscover these people.” (K.R. Müller)

His style was considered unconventional—usually black and white, always without artificial lighting, each photograph one of a kind. His only tool is a 1975 Rolleiflex camera, which replaced the 1935 model he had received from his father. There is no team of assistants accompanying him, and the prints on paper come out of his own darkroom. His oeuvre comprises more than 2,800 photographs still in the photographer’s personal possession.

C/O Berlin presents 60 photographs of German chancellors from Konrad Rufus Müller’s oeuvre. The thematic focus of the exhibition is on Konrad Adenauer. A photograph of current Chancellor Angela Merkel, taken in May 2009, is being presented for the first time.

Konrad Rufus Müller (b. 1940) is one of the most renowned portrait photographers of the postwar period. After completing a degree in painting at the Berlin University of the Arts he taught himself photography. Müller sought proximity to influential people, in order to get a glimpse behind the curtain of power. In addition to the German chancellors, he accompanied important cultural and political figures like Bruno Kreisky, Wladimir Putin, François Mitterrand, Anwar el-Sadat, Sergiu Celibidache, and Friedrich Dürrenmatt as a freelance photographer. His portraits and photo documentaries have been published in Stern and the magazines of the ZEIT and Süddeutsche Zeitung, and have been featured in diverse exhibitions and books (terra cognita). Konrad Rufus Müller lives and works in Königswinter.

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