I think THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY did hit Mr. Janssen

Photographs by Horst Janssen seen anew by Oliver Godow

21 May to 24 September 2023

Horst Janssen was not only a draughtsman, etcher and man of letters, but was also fascinated by photography throughout his life. Yet this fact is hardly known and the last exhibition on Janssen's photography was 20 years ago. Yet his diverse photographic oeuvre comprises around 3,000 photos, the majority of which lie unseen in archives in Hamburg and Oldenburg. With the exhibition "The Power of Photography", the photographer and current Horst Janssen Museum scholarship holder Oliver Godow now shows Horst Janssen as an enthusiastic photographic artist and, together with his co-curator Dr. Sabine Siebel, presents well-known but also completely unknown photographic works by Janssen.

Polaroid camera enables spontaneous picture experience

"With the camera, Janssen was able to directly capture his perception of the image, which was congruent with his gaze, his intention and his state of mind. The camera was as quick as his eye and faster than his stroke," explains guest curator Oliver Godow. Horst Janssen used the possibilities of photography with corresponding intensity and enthusiasm, often spontaneously and playfully, but also with great seriousness. There are photographs of all his subjects: of landscapes he travelled through, his everyday surroundings, still lifes, portraits of his lovers and self-portraits (selfies). The artist was particularly fond of the Polaroid camera in the 1970s and 80s, which allowed him to experience images as spontaneously as digital smartphone photography does today.

Complex photographic oeuvre

The Horst Janssen Museum's collection includes numerous black-and-white photos from the 1970s, but also many colour Polaroids from the 1980s. They are supplemented in the exhibition by loans from the Galerie St. Gertrude and photo repros from the Kunsthalle Hamburg. In addition, thanks to the commitment of co-curator Sabine Siebel, the exciting photographic estate of Janssen's friend, the Hamburg photographer Volker Eckhoff, could be included for the first time. With expert knowledge, but also with a subjective view, artist-photographer Oliver Godow has curated an exhibition from it that shows how complex and highly emotional Janssen's photographic oeuvre is and what a contemporary approach it follows from today's perspective. As Godow says: "Completely RETRO and yet NOW."

With the kind support of the LzO Foundation for Art and Culture.