Anna Auer

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Anna Auer (born March 20, 1937 in Klagenfurt ) is an Austrian photo historian, curator and publicist. In Vienna she founded one of the first galleries for artistic photography in Europe and built up the “ Fotografis ” collection . She researched and published on the history of Austrian exile photography. Her work is seen as a contribution to the recognition of photography as an independent art form in the German-speaking area.


According to her own statements, Anna Auer attended the Hasner secondary school for girls in Klagenfurt and began an apprenticeship in bookselling after graduating in 1952. She broke off her training when she passed the entrance exam for the drama seminar at the Mozarteum Salzburg in 1954 , where she studied until 1957. She lived in France between 1958 and 1961. She gave birth to her daughter in Paris in 1959.

In 1970 she founded “Die Brücke” in Vienna with photographer Werner H. Mraz, the first private gallery for artistic photography in Austria. From 1975 onwards she and Mraz built up the “Fotografis” collection for Bank Austria , of which she was curator until 1986. Between 1976 and 1981 they organized international symposia to promote the recognition of photography as an artistic medium in German-speaking countries.

During several years of research and a three-month study visit in 1992 at the J. Paul Getty Museum (Getty Villa) Santa Monica in Los Angeles , Anna Auer researched the exile of Austrian photographers during the Nazi era . This resulted in the concept for the exhibition “Übersee”, which was shown in 1998 in the Kunsthalle Wien .


Gallery "The Bridge"

When Auer and Mraz founded “Die Brücke”, photography received little attention as an art object in Austria. The models for the gallery were the “Galerie Clarissa” in Hanover, which existed from 1965 to 1968 for experimental photography, and the “Galleria il Diaframma” in Milan, which opened in 1967 . According to the historian Ulla Fischer-Westhauser, Auer's "Brücke" paved the way for photography as an independent artistic medium in Austria. In "tireless detailed work" she has convinced ministerial officials, museum directors and university lecturers of the importance of photography. In addition to the exhibition and sales rooms, "Die Brücke" also housed a specialist bookshop with literature, journals and magazines from 1973 onwards. It was the first photo bookshop in Austria. After Auer and Mraz separated in 1977, the gallery was closed in 1978 and the bookstore continued until 1980.

Collection "Fotografis"

Collecting and documenting photography as art was an innovation in Austria in the mid-1970s. According to the Kunstforum Wien , Auer developed an archival model that was based on the collection structure of the image archive of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation in Berlin , the photo collection of the Folkwang Museum in Essen and the Ludwig Museum in Cologne . The collection, with around 1000 selected works from the international history of photography, consists of the departments “Early Photography”, “ Pictorialism ” and “ New Objectivity - Experimental Photography”. The collection also includes photographs by contemporary Austrian photographers such as Otmar Thormann, Branko Lenart, Manfred Willmann and Heinz Cibulka . In 1982 Auer curated the exhibition "Austrian Photography Today" at the Austrian Cultural Institute in New York with works from the collection.

In 2008 the collection was exhibited at the Kunstforum Wien under the title “Fotografis - Collection Reloaded” . In July 2009 it came on temporary loan to the Museum der Moderne Salzburg . In 2017 it was brought back to Vienna, where it has since been used by Bank Austria for exhibitions at home and abroad.

Austrian exile photography

The exhibition “Übersee”, curated by Johannes Faber based on the concept of Anna Auer, was the first extensive exhibition on exile photography in Austria. In total, she presented 250 works by 53 photographers, most of whom had emigrated to the USA, such as Herbert Bayer , Trude Fleischmann , Lisette Model and Erica Anderson . Auer dealt particularly intensively with Trude Fleischmann. The interview that she conducted in Lugano on March 16, 1986 four years before Fleischmann's death is the only spoken document by Trude Fleischmann. It was included as a text document in 2011 in the catalog of the solo exhibition “Trude Fleischmann. The self-confident look ”published in the Wien Museum .

Peter Klein's film "Fragments of Memory" was shown as an accompanying program. It is partially underlaid with the original voices from interviews that Auer conducted with the photographers from 1986 onwards.


From 2001 to 2010 Anna Auer was President of the " European Society for the History of Photography " (ESHPh), founded in Leverkusen in 1978 and now based in Vienna.


In 2008 the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture awarded Anna Auer the professional title of "Professor". According to the ministry's justification, she has “made a decisive contribution to the high international recognition of Austrian photography through her decades of scientific research and diverse mediation work”.

Publications (selection)

  • Is photography art? Does photography belong in a museum? (International Photo Symposium 1981, Mickeln Castle near Düsseldorf), ed. by Erika Kiffl, with contributions by Anna Auer, Mahnert-Lueg Verlag, Munich 1982, ISBN 3-922170-25-0 .
  • The forgotten letters and writings: Niépce , Daguerre , Talbot . ( Facsimiles ), ed. and translated from the French by Anna Auer, Verlag für Photographische Literatur, Vienna 1997, ISBN 3-901239-05-7 .
  • Overseas. Flight and emigration of Austrian photographers 1920–1940 (text: German / English), exhibition catalog, ed. by Anna Auer, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna 1998
  • Flashback. 150 years of photography in Austria , catalog for the exhibition at the Technisches Museum Wien , exhibition concept and texts: Anna Auer, ed. from the Photographische Gesellschaft, Vienna 1989
  • The Vienna gallery 'Die Brücke' - your international route to the 'Fotografis' collection. A contribution to the history of photography collections , Klinger Verlag, Passau 1999, ISBN 3-932949-03-X .
  • Photography in conversation , Dietmar Klinger Verlag, Passau 2001, ISBN 3-932949-11-0 .
  • The other's face. The portrait in photography. In: Uwe Schögl (Ed.): In focus. The photo collection of the Austrian National Library. Conference brochure. Haymon Verlag, Innsbruck 2002, pp. 64–95.
  • The history of Austrian exile photography. In: Exile Research. An international yearbook. Volume 21: Film and Photography. Edition Text +kritik , Munich 2003, ISBN 3-88377-746-3 , pp. 183–206.
  • Austrian exile photography and its research. In: Sandra Wiesinger-Stock, Erika Weinzierl, Konstantin Kaiser (eds.): From going away. To the exile of art and science. Mandelbaum Verlag, Vienna 2006, ISBN 3-85476-182-1 , pp. 376–385.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Anna Auer: The sweet cherries of my childhood. Klinger Verlag, Passau 2008, ISBN 978-3-932949-72-2 .
  2. a b Nina Schedlmayer: Fotografis - Collection Reloaded: Treasure trove in black and white , Artmagzine, September 26, 2008
  3. ^ Exhibition: Übersee , Kunsthalle Wien, 1998
  4. Prehistory. in: Anna Auer: The Vienna Gallery Die Bruecke - Your international route to the Fotografis Collection. Passau 1999, pp. 20/21. (
  5. Ulla Fischer-Westhauser: WESTLICH. Scene for photography - a new initiative. In: Irene Ziehe, Ulrich Hägele (ed.): Photos - "beautiful and useful at the same time". The object photography. Lit Verlag, Münster u. a. 2006, ISBN 3-8258-8663-8 , p. 212.
  6. Fotografis collection reloaded , Kunstforum Wien, 2008
  7. ^ Anna Auer: Die Bruecke Gallery in Vienna - Your international route to the Fotografis Collection. Passau 1999, pp. 154-159. ( , full text as pdf for download on the website of the European Society for the History of Photography)
  8. ^ Walter Seidl: Between culture and culture. The Austrian Institute in New York and Austria's cultural representation in the USA. Böhlau Verlag, Vienna / Cologne / Weimar 2001, ISBN 3-205-99293-8 , p. 81.
  9. The confident look , 26 January, 2011
  10. The confident look , 26 January, 2011
  11. BMUKK press release, Vienna September 11, 2008