04. March - 22. Juli 2018 Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg


Robert Lebeck. Pope Paul VI in the airplane on his way to Bogotá, Colombia, 22 August. 1968. © Archiv Robert Lebeck
Robert Lebeck. Diana Rigg and Curd Jürgens during the shooting of the motion picture. The Assassination Bureau, Ltd, Venice, 28 April 1968. © Archiv Robert Lebeck
Robert Lebeck. Model in the boot of a VW 411, Wolfsburg, 31 July 1968. © Archiv Robert Lebeck
Robert Lebeck. Joseph Patrick, the oldest son of the assassinated presidential candidate, at the head of the pallbearers at the funeral of Robert F. Kennedy,
Arlington National Cemetery, 8 June 1968. © Archiv Robert Lebeck

Exemplary Photo Reportages of a German Photojournalist

"The year of the student protests took place without me." In his autobiography, the German photojournalist and collector Robert Lebeck (1929 – 2014) described how he experienced the year 1968: "When the barricades were burning in Paris, I was working in Florida on a series about two murdered students; when students began protesting in front of the Springer Building, I was photographing the christening of Hildegard Knef’s baby; and when Russian troops marched into Prague, I was accompanying the pope’s visit to Bogotá."

A closer examination of the contact sheets, prints and reportages made by Robert Lebeck during this epoch-making year on behalf of "Stern," one of Germany’s highest-circulation magazines at that time, reveal the extent to which his incisive photographs, despite his own assessment, truly reflect the changes in society that were going on at that time.

Upheaval, protest, perseverance and failure: In "Robert Lebeck. 1968" (March 4-July 22, 2018, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg), the leitmotifs of that year that are not always visible in the mythicizing retrospective view are made tangible in exemplary photographic series taken in places like New York, Bogotá, Kassel, Belfast or Wolfsburg.

Many of the exhibited photos — which is part of their special attractivity — have never been published and are completely unknown. Whether dealing with "Divorced Women," Rudi Dutschke in Prague, Robert F. Kennedy’s funeral or Joseph Beuys at the documenta, concentrated contemporary history encounters bold photo reportages and photographic art in Robert Lebeck’s works.

The show opens suggestively with a floor-to-ceiling allover of Robert Lebeck’s photographs and original audio documents from 1968. A gallery devoted to "1968" that visualizes the various spheres of the photo journalist’s activities during that year is followed by the eight central chapters — and photo reportages — of the exhibition in chronological order from the Prague Spring to the Northern Irish winter.

Media stations and large-scale projections make up the backdrop against which the significance of Robert Lebeck’s photo reportages becomes all the more evident. Original Contact sheets and issues of “Stern” provide visitors with in-depth insights into Lebeck’s photographic work and the photo editing practice of those years.

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