Droll Moment

about Friedrich Seidenstücker

Friedrich Seidenstücker didn’t sell his first photograph until he was 46. Trained as a sculptor, he never lost his eye for mass and form. His atmospheric photographs of Berlin daily life during the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s freeze passersby in poses either accidentally graceful or, more frequently, droll and ungainly. Thanks to his compassionate studies of animals, he has an almost legendary reputation among animal and zoo lovers, and his haunting pictures of Berlin in ruins in World War II are a precious source of material for historians. Beyond that, he also focused on nudes.

Born in September 1882, in Unna, Germany, Friedrich’s images seem to be sympathetic examples of the kind of photography that excels at capturing the moment. They are free of any exaggeration or extravagance, and display a sense of humor rarely found in photography. His work is buoyed by a fundamental optimism, yet it does not ignore the harshness, poverty, and suffering that prevailed at that time. After his death, in December 1966, his work was somehow forgotten, until the 1980s, when his rediscovery began as a “flaneur” among the photographers. A comprehensive retrospective on Friedrich with over 200 original photographs took place from October 2011 in the Berlinische Galerie.


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