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#swisshistorypics The enchanting ‘inferior work’ of Leonard von Matt

Leonard von Matt (1909-1988) became well-known through his work on art in antiquity and his photo albums on Italy in the 1950s. He learnt and experimented with photography at home in canton Nidwalden, central Switzerland. 

His early works originated between 1936 and 1946. He had a fine feel for taking portraits of local people and culture and his work documents a long-gone and almost forgotten world. He himself described the images as “inferior work” or “practice sessions”. 

Von Matt taught himself photography, studying books on technique and following the work of colleagues like Paul Senn, Jakob Tuggener, Gotthard Schuh and Man Ray. 

He loved the single frame, so he was more of a careful observer than a storyteller. The early photographs shown here are taken from a photo albumexternal link and are on display at an exhibition at the Nidwalden Museum Winkelriedhausexternal link until October 14. The exhibition will then continue to Arles, Paris, Berlin and Engelberg.

(Images: © Madeleine Kaiser-von Matt, Buochs)