Herbert List: From Form to Photojournalism
March 31, 2015
by Herbert List
Born into a merchant family in Germany in 1903, after completing his education, and with the rise of power of the Nazis, Herbert List left Germany in the 1930s. He embarked on extensive travels through Greece and Italy, stopping in London and Paris in a search for his language of form between New Objectivity and Surrealism. Immersed in the classical architecture of Athens and the surrealists’ paintings of De Chirico and Max Ernst, List tenaciously produced works focused on form and composition. He used the Mediterranean light to transform mundane objects in to surreal compositions.
It was not until after the war upon meeting Henri Cartier-Bresson that isolated pictures gave way to photo-essays. He switched from a reflex camera (Rolleiflex) to a viewfinder camera (Leica) and was able to produce images of everyday life taken at a moment’s notice. He pursued the Magnum Founder’s expression ‘the decisive moment’.
One unifying subject which List continued throughout his career was the male form. Pre-empting the work of Mapplethorpe or Ritts, these images remained mostly private and unprinted until 1988 when it was recognised as an acceptable subject matter. These images’ legacy continues today in the work of acclaimed advertising photographers including, Bruce Weber.
A collection of vintage and posthumous photographs, this is the first solo exhibition of the artist’s work in the UK.
March 17th - May 1st, 2015
Magnum Photos Print Room
63 Gee Street
London EC1V 3RS