press release

At the age of 70, looking back on his career as a photographer Herbert List said that he aimed but “not always succeeded in portraying things so that their underlying meaning would reveal itself.” The most successful attempts were those in which he grasped the magic of the situation in passing. These transient qualities of capturing a moment en passant and grasping its vanishing meaning at that right magical moment characterize his best images. “Such pictures radiate an aura that logic or aesthetics cannot explain".

The selection of 120 works on show sheds some light on the elusive oeuvre of the German photographer and why it is so hard to categorize his work. He would work in almost every genre that photography has to offer: Architecture, still life, street-photography, portraiture, documentation and cataloguing. Yet he also blurred the demarkation between those fields: Architectural shots seem like composed still lifes or surreal compositions. Documentation of Greek sculptures or African artifacts borders on portraiture; and when capturing the classical beauty of the male physique, one does not quite know if we look at painstakingly composed arrangements or a private photo-diary, shot spontaneously from the hip.

With this show we invite the viewer to discover List’s multifaceted work, by exploring many masterpieces and some lesser known work side by side. The result is a visual journey leading from enigmatic night shots, surreal and dark compositions, to the mediterranean sunlight on the bodies of young men and the ruins of ancient Greece. Continuing through a gallery of 20th century artists we end with List’s s visual declaration of love to Italy and its celebration of the eternal beauty of life.

In collaboration with Magnum Photos Herbert List Estate