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Museum Ludwig, Cologne opens exhibition of photographs by Werner Mantz
Werner Mantz, Café Wien, Köln, 1929. Bromsilberdruck. Museum Ludwig, Köln © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017. Photo: Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln.

COLOGNE.- Werner Mantz (1901–1983) is known as one of the most prominent photographers of the Neues Bauen movement of modernist architecture in Cologne during the 1920s. Born and raised in Cologne, in 1921 he opened a photo studio, where he initially took portraits of famous intellectuals, artists, and politicians. In 1926 he began receiving commissions as an architectural photographer for Wilhelm Riphahn, Peter Franz Nöcker, Caspar Maria Grod, and other representatives of avant-garde architecture who implemented Konrad Adenauer’s housing policy for a modern Cologne. Architectural magazines such as Bauwelt, Die Form, and Bauwarte frequently published his works. Their objective, black-and-white austerity gives the deserted buildings and streets in Mantz’s pictures the appearance of monumental backdrops of the modern age. It was these pictures that made Cologne’s modernist architecture renowned beyond the boundaries of the city.

In 1932 Mantz opened a second studio in Maastricht, and he moved to the Netherlands in 1938. There he returned to portrait photography and specialized in portraits of children. He saw his portraits as equally important as his architectural photographs, but they have not yet been exhibited. The Museum Ludwig will now bring together these two aspects of his oeuvre and will allow visitors to experience it in its historical breadth and diversity for the first time ever.

The exhibition is a joint production with the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam, which holds the extensive collection of Mantz’s photographs from the Netherlands.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue.

Curators: Miriam Halwani (Museum Ludwig) and Frits Gierstberg (Nederlands Fotomuseum)

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