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MONTH OF PHOTOGRAPHY | Galéria mesta Bratislavy | Allowance organisation of the City of Bratislava, capital of the Slovak Republic


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The City Gallery of Bratislava is an allowance organisation of the City of Bratislava, capital of the Slovak Republic.



Author: Rudolf Koppitz
Pálffy Palace (show Contact)
29. 10. 2014 - 18. 1. 2015
Curator: Monika Faber

Organized by the Photoinstitut Bonartes in Vienna together with FOTOFO and Central European House of Photography for the Month of Photography in Bratislava



Research, preservation, maintenance, dissemination and education regarding historical photography from Central Europe are the main tasks of Photoinstitut Bonartes in Vienna. In line with this, the City Gallery in Bratislava presents the exhibition Rudolf Koppitz, from October 29, 2014 thru January 11, 2015. The show is organized by the Photoinstitut Bonartes in collaboration with FOTOFO and the Central European House of Photography, who are organizing the Month of Photography in Bratislava.


Rudolf Koppitz (1884–1936) is amongst the most important Austrian photographers. He is much appreciated internationally for his unique way of blending Pictorialism, Art Deco, and “Heimatkunst”. The exhibition shows about 60 photographs from all stages of the artist’s work. Aside from his famous nude studies, including his perhaps best-known picture, the “Movement Study” of 1925, the show features a number of early landscape photos carried out in various complicated printing techniques as well as a series of shots he did as an air-force reconnaissance photographer in World War I. Another chapter in the exhibition is dedicated to his programmatically entitled exhibition “Country and People” (Land und Leute) shown 1936 at the Vienna Museum of Art and Industry (today: MAK – Museum of Applied Art).


The majority of the exhibits shown come from the holdings of the Photoinstitut Bonartes which takes care of a large part of the estate of Rudolf Koppitz.


The exhibition premiered in the Moravská Galerie v Brno (Moravian Gallery, Brno, Czech Republic) in April 2013.


Curator (Photoinstitut Bonartes): Monika Faber and Magdalena Vukovic

Curator (FOTOFO): Michaela Bosaková


Biography Details


Rudolf Koppitz (b. 1884, Schreiberseifen/Skrbovice near Freudenthal/Bruntál – d. 1936, Perchtoldsdorf near Vienna)


Following an apprenticeship as a professional photographer in Austrian Silesia, he attended the Imperial and Royal School of Graphics (k.k. Graphische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt, “Graphische”) in Vienna in 1912/13. His early works give evidence of the influence of his teacher, the Czech symbolist Karel Novák, and the circle of the Vienna Secession. Following these influences he had a penchant for ornament and a preference for stylized compositions.


In 1913, Koppitz was appointed an assistant at the Graphische, but was shortly afterwards enlisted for war service. He was assigned different tasks in Galicia and later Italy in the area of reconnaissance photography which at that time still was in its very beginnings. Later, flying missions over enemy territory, he did a number of spectacular aerial shots.


After the war, he returned to the Graphische where he quickly got assigned as a teacher. In summer 1923, he married Anna Arbeitlang, who had also worked there as an assistant teacher. During this time he did his first nude photos: his preferred models were dancers, although he himself also posed nude before the camera. Extensive exhibition activities started in 1924. Until his death he participated in about 60 exhibitions all over the world.

In 1929/30, he saw his biggest international successes: his most famous work, “Movement Study” (1925), was used as an illustration in the “Encyclopædia Britannica” as the most prominent example of “Art Photography”. Early in 1930, an exhibition of Koppitz’s works travelled from New York to San Francisco. The works shown were still strongly influenced by Pictorialism.


In the same year, however, the FiFo (“Internationale Ausstellung des Deutschen Werkbundes – Film und Foto”) came to Vienna after being shown in Stuttgart. It had decisive influence on Koppitz’s artistic development. The “Neues Sehen” (New Vision) led him to turn away from symbolist compositions and toward a more factual and documentary oriented photography. His preferred subjects now were rustic life as well as rural and sports scenes. In 1936, the most comprehensive exhibition of his work took place: in a show entitled “Country and People”, the Museum of Art and Industry, today’s MAK, presented a survey of 500 works focused mainly on rustic and rural subjects.




Thorough research done in preparing this exhibition produced numerous new results on Koppitz’s dance photography and his later peasant portraits. The main focus of the catalog is Koppitz’s characteristic blending of Austrian Pictorialism and Czech Symbolism, two very different traditions. Another important issue is the political aspect of the “Heimatfotografie” and the role of Koppitz’ wife, Anna, who had great influence on his career and, after his death, made use of his photographs and aesthetics in a Nazi context. 








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Rudolf Koppitz

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