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Museum Ludwig: Walde Huth. Material und Mode | 23.09.2023 – 03.03.2024

Editors’ Choice

The Museum Ludwig presents a new exhibition in honour of Walde Huth (1923-2011). She worked with textiles and fabrics throughout her life as a photographer. Starting with commissions for the velvet factory Gottlieb Ott Sohn in the early 1950s, among others, she made the leap to becoming a fashion photographer of international designers of the “New Look” such as Christian Dior or Jacques Fath.

Fig. above: Walde Huth, Lucky wearing a dress by Dior, Paris, 1955, Museum Ludwig, © Heringson Collectibles, Wuppertal Reproduction: Rheinisches Bildarchiv Cologne

For three years, 1953 to 1956, she travelled to Paris, Florence and Rome and photographed the latest collections for German magazines. Her models were the star mannequins of their time; she rarely had them pose in luxurious settings, but instead in the city, surrounded by passers-by. “I didn’t need that, those references back from the location,” she said later, when she photographed evening gowns precisely not in the opera or in a ballroom “I saw it linearly, from the form, from the design, of the gown.” She also wanted to get away from the sweet kitsch of permanently smiling models. Her pictures are therefore carefully composed, the women in them appear self-confident, the clothes become the form, corresponding to the architecture of the city. This also applies to Walde Huth’s nylon underwear and carpet advertisements in the 1960s when she founded the company schmölz + huth in Cologne with her husband, the photographer Karl Hugo Schmölz. Their residential and studio house Am Südpark in Cologne-Marienburg, built by Hans Schilling, still hints at the modernity of the two of them today.

DEEDS NEWS - Museum Ludwig - © Heringson Collectibles -Wuppertal Reproduction Rheinisches Bildarchiv Cologne
Huth-Schmölz, Walde (?), Am Südpark studio at night (street side), Cologne, in the winter, 1963, © Heringson Collectibles, Wuppertal Reproduction: Rheinisches Bildarchiv Cologne

From the 1970s onwards, he produced more and more abstract, artistic photographs and Super 8 films such as Curtains in the Wind, entitled “100 Unwritten Letters. Photographic modulations”. In addition to the fabrics, two other components play an important role in her pictures from the beginning: the light and the choice of photographic material – sometimes colour, sometimes black and white. Walde Huth had gained experience in colour photography early on, namely through her work at the Agfa photo factory in Wolfen from 1943 to 1945, where she tested the quality of the new Agfacolor films, for example.

DEEDS NEWS - Museum Ludwig - Walde Huth -© Heringson Collectibles - Wuppertal Reproduction Rheinisches Bildarchiv Cologne
Walde Huth, Fashion photograph for Dior, undated, Museum Ludwig © Heringson Collectibles, Wuppertal Reproduction: Rheinisches Bildarchiv Cologne

It is clear that we still know far too little about Walde Huth and her work. This presentation is therefore an approach, a visualisation and also an invitation to share memories and knowledge, to start research on continuities and breaks between her first years as a photographer for Agfa and her career in Germany during the years of the economic miracle. On the occasion of the centenary of her birth, Museum Ludwig is offering an insight into its Walde Huth holdings, which have been extensively expanded since 2017.


Museum Ludwig
50667 Cologne


Tuesday – Sunday (incl. public holidays): 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Every 1st Thursday of the month: 10 am – 10 pm
Closed on Mondays (except public holidays)


Adults: 12,00 € plus VVK fees
Reduced*: 8,00 € plus VVK fees
Children and young people up to 18 years: free
Groups: 8,70 € per person (from 20 persons)
Persons with a GdB of at least 50%: € 6.00 plus VVK fees

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