Otto Steinert

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Otto Steinert (born July 12, 1915 in Saarbrücken , † March 3, 1978 in Essen ) was one of the most important German photographers of the post-war period .


Steinert, the son of a sales representative, started photography at the age of 14. The oldest known recordings date from 1929. He was also interested in the technical aspects of photography and built his own camera. In 1934 he began his medical studies in Munich , then moved to Marburg in 1935 and to Rostock in 1936 . In the same year Steinert joined the NSDAP . In 1937 he continued his studies in Heidelberg , but then joined the Wehrmacht in April and was a flag junior in a medical corps . He then continued his studies in Berlin , Munich and again in Berlin, where he received his doctorate from the Charité in 1939. In 1940 he took part as an assistant doctor in the Western campaign in France, from 1941 to 1943 first as a senior physician and then as a medical officer in the Russian campaign. In 1943 he married Marlis Gertrude Johanna Damler. Steinert remained until the end of the Second World War as a consultant to the army doctor in the General Staff of the Army in Berlin. In 1945 he went to Kiel and worked as an assistant doctor at the university there.

From 1947 to 1948 Steinert worked in Franz Altenkirch's photo and cinema shop. Some of his early photomontages and photograms were made in the laboratory there . The year 1947 marked a turning point in Steinert's life. He ended his medical career and now turned entirely to photography. In 1947 he received permission to set up a studio for artistic photography. From 1948 to 1951 Steinert was the official theater photographer in Saarbrücken. In 1948 Steinert began to teach at the Saarland State School for Art and Crafts , of which he became director in 1952. He got to know Josef Adolf Schmoll called Eisenwerth , with whom he developed a working friendship. The next year he founded the Free Photography Working Group with Wolfgang Reisewitz , Ludwig Windstosser, Peter Keetman , Toni Schneiders and Siegfried Lauterwasser , which he called Fotoform at his request . Steinert, whose photomontages show an artistic proximity to Edmund Kesting's work, created an independent area in experimental portrait photography with solarized negative prints, such as his Pale Portrait (1949). Steinert organized the exhibitions subjective photography I-III in 1951, 1954 and 1958 . In 1961 he photographed a series of portraits of Nobel Prize winners .

From April 1959 until his death he taught at the Folkwang School of Design in Essen. In 1973 he was also appointed professor by the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia. His students include well-known photographers, photo teachers and curators such as Vicente del Amo, Monika von Boch, Harald Boockmann, Kilian Breier , Erich vom Endt, Ute Eskildsen , André Gelpke , Arno Jansen , Bernd Jansen, Guido Mangold , Stephan Morgenstern , Harry S. Morgan , Detlef Orlopp , Timm Rautert , Dirk Reinartz and Heinrich Riebesehl . Today Steinert is considered one of the most important and influential photographers in post-war Germany.

Steinert's artistic estate and the collection of historical photographs he built up for his university teaching with the support of the city of Essen are kept in the photographic collection of the Museum Folkwang in Essen. Since 1979, the Otto Steinert Prize has been awarded by the Image section of the German Society for Photography DGPh . On the occasion of Otto Steinert's 100th birthday, the photography course at the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen and the Folkwang Museum's photographic collection organized the international symposium Work on Images in November 2015 . Otto Steinert and the fields of photography .


Honors and prizes

Exhibitions (selection)

Solo exhibitions

During his lifetime
  • 1949 Gutenberghaus, Sulzbach
  • 1954 State Image Office, Hamburg
  • 1960 Galerie Du Studio 28, Paris
  • 1966 Société française de photographie, Paris
  • 1970 Ecole nationale superieure d'architecture et des arts visuels, Brussels
  • 1975 University / GHS Essen
  • 1976/1977 traveling exhibition in Essen, Stockholm and Munich
Posthumous exhibitions
  • 1982 Galleria Harpsichord Borghese, Rome
  • 1984 Municipale du Château d'Eau Gallery, Toulouse
  • 1986 Photography Forum, Frankfurt am Main
  • 1995 Françoise Paviot Gallery, Paris
  • 2008 Galerie Kicken Berlin

Exhibition series Otto Steinert and his students

  • 1954 traveling exhibition in Stockholm, Barcelona, ​​Buenos Aires and São Paulo
  • 1955 Arts and Crafts Museum, Gothenburg
  • 1959 Neues Forum, Bremen and Museum Folkwang, Essen
  • 1964 Huidevettershuis, Bruges
  • 1973 Société française de photographie, Paris


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Registration of Otto Steinert in the Rostock matriculation portal
  2. Ulrike Herrmann: Otto Steinert and his photographic work, photography in the field of tension between tradition and modernity ( Memento from July 25, 2004 in the Internet Archive ), dissertation, online resource (PDF; 1.13 MB).
  3. Ludger Durenthal: The technological abstraction of the face. To the portraits of Otto Steinert . In: Ute Eskildsen (ed.): The photographer Otto Steinert . Steidl, Göttingen 1999, p. 194.
  4. International symposium on the 100th birthday of Otto Steinert ( memento from March 13, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) at the Folkwang University of the Arts and the Folkwang Museum
  5. Ute Eskildsen (ed.): The photographer Otto Steinert . Steidl, Göttingen 1999, p. 229.
  6. The inexorable one