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Alfred Ehrhardt & Rolf Tietgens: Hamburger Hafen und Norddeutsche Küste – Alfred Ehrhardt Stiftung | 13.04.-07.07.2024

Editors’ Choice

Alfred Ehrhardt Stiftung is showing the exhibition Hamburger Hafen und Norddeutsche Küste by the artists Alfred Ehrhardt and Rolf Tietgens from 13 April 2024. Rolf Tietgens (1911-1984) is considered one of the most important photographers of the 1930s, but he is still only known to a few in this country. His work fell into oblivion after he emigrated to New York at the end of 1938, threatened with persecution as a homosexual artist in Germany. As he never returned to Germany, his work remained forgotten for a long time. Today, his book Der Hafen, which was published by the renowned Heinrich Ellermann Verlag in 1939 to mark the 750th anniversary of the Port of Hamburg, must be counted among the best photo books of the 1930s.

Title image : Alfred Ehrhardt, Hamburger Hafen, 1930er Jahre, Silbergelatinepapier, 49 x 32,5 cm © Alfred Ehrhardt Stiftung 

Tietgens masterfully utilises the vocabulary of “New Vision” to lend the images a symbolic dimension from a personal perspective. The harbour appears as a multifaceted, archaic place where man has shaped the transition from water to land. Shipping traffic and the technical processes associated with it are just one part of a complex organism that includes the spheres of architecture and labour as well as those of trade and nocturnal pleasure.

Image 1: Rolf Tietgens, Fischmarkt Altona am Sonntagmorgen, from: „Der Hafen“, Rolf Tietgens, Heinrich Ellermann Verlag Hamburg, 1939 © Rolf Tietgens
Image 2: Rolf Tietgen, Schraube und Steuerruder eines Dampfers, from: „Der Hafen“, Rolf Tietgens, Heinrich Ellermann Verlag Hamburg, 1939 © Rolf Tietgens

For the first time, this double exhibition also presents the individual pictures of Hamburg harbour by Alfred Ehrhardt (1901-1984). Ehrhardt’s photographs from the 1930s are more objective. They capture the harbour less as a metaphorical space and more as a dynamic scene of the industrial age, which gave rise to a specific maritime technology.

The poetry of the harbour and the immense variety of its ever-changing images have always attracted photographers. Beyond the documentary value of their images, the timeless poetry of the maritime world can be experienced in the work of both photographers. The thematic overlaps and the images, which are equally committed to the pictorial rhetoric of avant-garde photography, have already prompted contemporary critics to recognise the Hamburg photographers Alfred Ehrhardt and Rolf Tietgens as equal colleagues.


Opening: Friday, 12. April 2024, 7-9 pm
Curated by Prof. Dr. Eckhardt Köhn

Exhibition dates: Saturday, 13 April to Sunday, 7 July 2024
Tu – Su 11 am – 6 pm


Alfred Ehrhardt Stiftung 
Auguststr. 75
10117 Berlin-Mitte

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