C/O Berlin is currently hosting a photo exhibition: Eyes Wide Open – 100 years of Leica photography. This extensive, and impressive, show which features hundreds of photographs, traces the trajectory of the small, handy camera through the various aspects encompassed by modern photography. Used first as a tool by people to document life around then, the Leica camera was quickly adopted by photojournalist, and served to pretty much document the better part of the 20th century in the Western world, including most of the 20th century conflicts from the Spanish civil war onwards. From journalism, the application of the Leica branched out, onto street, fashion and fine art.
The photos on display include a great many of the last century’s iconic, classic images – from Cartier-Bresson’s man jumping over a puddle, to the Vietnamese girl running from Napalm by Nick Út, the sailor kissing a woman in Times Square by Alfred Eisenstaedt, and the classic James Dean portrait captured by Dean Stock. Different national tendencies are also analyzed, as the show dedicates different sections to respectively German, French, US, Spanish and Japanese post-WW2 photography.
The bulk of the images on display are in black and white, and personally I found that the chosen colour images resound even stronger for that. The fact that the 21st century plays only a minor role in the collected body of work obviously documents Leica’s diminishing role in this day and age, whatever the reasons may be.
The exhibition is rounded off with information about the Leica and the people and facilities behind the discovery and the production of the camera. The accompanying hard-cover catalogue is massive and clocks in at nearly 600 pages (and almost 100€).
Thus, all in all, a very worthwhile exhibition to visit. It is on until 1 November 2015. Various lectures on different aspects of Leica photography as well as guided tours with the curator are also offered.
For more information, see here: