FRANKFURT.- MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst
in Frankfurt possesses one of the largest collections of international contemporary photography world-wide. Since its foundation in 1991, MMK has collected photography, according it an equal status to painting, sculpture, drawing, film and video installations. The Collection strategy has always focused on the image itself, not only in connection with the respective artists oeuvre as a whole, but also in regards to the specific images exemplary qualities and photographic expression.
The presentation from the Collection is entitled The Lucid Evidence and is the first of two presentations with which the MMK will be publicly showcasing its important holdings. There are series and groups of works from a total of 23 artists on show their works cover the various genres of photography from the late 1950s through to the present. The focus of the show, which is made up of some 700 photographs, is on portraits, says Dr. Susanne Gaensheimer, MMKs Director. Moreover, the presentation creates a firm context for the parallel special exhibition entitled Not in Fashion. Fashion and Photography of the 1990s. For example, French photographer Bettina Rheims, with her renowned nudes and fashion photographs, occupies the interface between fashion and art. The second part of the presentation of works from Photography Collection is planned for 2012 and will take up the thread of The Lucid Evidence, albeit focusing more strongly on conceptual photography.
In the central hall, the eye immediately is caught by the huge photo-wall created by Japanese artist Nobuyoshi Araki and consisting of 90 individual color copy prints. This summer, Araki specially produced the piece for this wall in the MMKs central hall. On the sides of each image, we can still discern the date on which the photograph was taken. These Araki images are accompanied by his 54-part series Tokyo Comedy, dating from 1997. The photographs paint a picture of contemporary Japanese society and are likewise Arakis homage to his home town of Tokyo.
The elaborately staged large-format slides by Canadian photographer Jeff Wall, presented in large back-lit boxes, undoubtedly from one of the exhibition highlights. The Storyteller, made in 1986, which was one of the MMKs very first acquisitions, is now considered one of the classics of contemporary photography. Also on display is the one-off Odradek, Táboritská 8, Prague July, 1994.
Thomas Ruff, the internationally renowned photographer who studied under Bernd Becher in Düsseldorf, undermines the customary ratio of presented image and viewer with his monumental Portraits made in 1987-8. These works are supplemented by a work from his Sterne/Stars series of 1992.
Photojournalism as a genre is represented by numerous prints by Barbara Klemm, Anja Niedringhaus and Abisag Tüllmann. Tüllmann also made a name for herself photographing theater, and the exhibition includes 46 images she took of Beuys Performance Titus/Iphigenie in 1969.
A selection of 60 different photographs by Barbara Klemm is on display, as well as a range of Anja Niedringhauss work from conflict zones in the Balkans taken in 1993 2000.
Artists such as Jock Sturges, Dino Pedriali and US filmmaker and photographer Larry Clark stand for positions in subjective photography. Clark is one of the most influential photographers of his generation, and in his early works such as Teenage Lust and Tulsa, (1963 71), he created an intense existential portrait of US society against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. In addition there are 75 large-format photographs on view taken in 1991 presenting portraits of five teenagers. What we see here is more a somewhat remote gaze at youth culture among a very much younger generation of adolescents. The series seems almost like screentests for Larry Clarks later film Kids (1995), explains Dr. Mario Kramer, curator of the MMK Collection. Clark is one of the photographers who had the strongest influence on the generation that followed him, such as Wolfgang Tillmans, Jack Pierson and Tobias Zielony. In his 16-part photo cycle that is steeped in the tradition of street photography, made in 2009 10, Berlin-based artist Tobias Zielony documents youth culture on the outskirts of large cities today. His work is a sober piece of photography on the role models, gestures and boredom of youth in socially deprived areas.
Artists Mike Mandel and Larry Sultan are considered to be outstanding representatives of conceptual photography. On display are works of the series they made in 1977 and entitled Evidence. They take found photographic material as the starting point for their enquiry into what constitutes an original and authorship. This is also an area taken up by the images of US artist Taryn Simon selected from her series An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar made in 2003 7. Simons photographs of unsetting and in part surreal locations that are either not publicly accessible or at best hard to access, prompt viewers to ask whether these places really exist and challenge our perception of images.