Photography as Art

The Fine Arts Museum in Zurich is staging its first major exhibition on the works of a photographer. It features nearly 500 photographs taken by Jakob Tuggener, who was born in Zurich and died there in 1988 at the age of 84.

This content was published on February 28, 2000 - 16:37

The Fine Arts Museum in Zurich is staging its first major exhibition on the works of a photographer. It features nearly 500 photographs taken by Jakob Tuggener, who was born in Zurich and died there in 1988 at the age of 84.

Tuggener's photographic career was dominated by three themes - industry, the Swiss countryside and society balls in luxury hotels. The pictures he took, the portraits, industrial and rural landscapes and the impromptu shots of high society at play reveal a man who was equally at home in these very different worlds. They show his love for people, nature and machinery.

Martin Gasser, who is the exhibition organiser and author of a book about it, says Tuggener considered his work as a photographer as art and would not discuss it in terms other than that:"He lived for his art. He mainly produced photographs but also painted water colours and made silent films."

The exhibition includes paintings and the screening of his films but it is the photographs which impress the most with their high quality and range of subject matter. "His output was prolific," added Gasser. "At the time of his death there were between sixty and seventy thousand photographs left in the estate which he had not sold. That is an extraordinary number."

Tuggener lived modestly, in a small basement apartment in Zurich which also served as a studio.

During his extensive research into the photographer's life and work, Gasser was shown by his widow Maria Tuggener drawings and water colours as well as the photographs. "Above all there were almost 70 carefully bound and titled book maquettes which constitute the core of his work. Tuggener never likes to part with his books and looked after them as if they were his children. Only reluctantly did he show them to a few chosen admirers, so it is not surprising that so little has been known until now about this wonderfully creative artist."

The exhibition is at the Zurich Kunsthaus (Museum of Fine Arts) until April 9.




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