Heinrich Zille


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(1858–1929), German craft lithographer and graphic artist who, between 1882 and c. 1906, also took photographs in and around Berlin and Charlottenburg. Made, probably, with borrowed cameras, they are thematically and compositionally idiosyncratic and differ markedly from both salon pictorialism and commercial view photography. Nor were they simply adjuncts to Zille's celebrated illustrations of Berlin popular life. They range from family portraits and images of artist friends—mostly sculptors associated with the Berlin Secession—and their models (some nude) to unpicturesquely recorded corners of old Berlin, and amusement parks, bathing spots and rubbish tips on the city's shifting outskirts. Fairground idlers, passers-by, women dragging carts of firewood are often captured unawares in middle distance, moving away from the camera; horizons tilt; the photographer is revealed by his shadow. Interiors and family scenes, lit by magnesium flash, document Zille's lifestyle and his rise in status, c.1900, from artisan to artist. His non-domestic pictures are a from of primitive reportage, material perhaps for a project lost or never quite defined. Over 400 negative plates discovered in 1966, probably most of his photographic output, are in the Berlin Gallery.

From The Oxford Companion to the Photograph in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Photography and Photographs.

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