The Kassel-based photographer Dieter Schwerdtle liked to compare working on a photographic portrait with conducting a conversation. He combines the intimacy of the gaze and the feeling for one’s counterpart with a playful approach to the artificial pose. This is as true of the photographs of documenta artists such as Richard Serra, Jonathan Borofsky and Ilya Kabakov as it is of workers in factories in northern Hesse. Schwerdtle’s photographs of the 7000 Oaks action from 1982 continue to shape the collective image of Joseph Beuys to this day. This meticulous selection of works in this book pays tribute for the first time to the hitherto little-known position of documentary artist photography with works from Schwerdtle’s estate preserved in the documenta archive. Aside from his portraits, the book includes exhibition views from documenta 5 to 11 with their surprising, sometimes hidden perspectives of in fact familiar artworks that undermine conventional modes of reception.
Published in the series: Schriften des documenta archivs