Eyes wide open!
100 Years of Leica Photography

March 13 – May 31, 2015
Opening hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–6pm,
Wednesday 11am–8pm, Monday closed
Admission fees

Christer Strömholm

Photo: Christer Strömholm. Nana, Place Blanche, Paris 1961, detail, ©Christer Strömholm/Strömholm Estate, 2015

Ur-Leica von 1914

Photo: Ur-Leica from 1914, © Leica Camera AG

Oskar Barnack: Flut in Wetzlar

Photo: Oskar Barnack: Flood in Wetzlar, 1920, ©Leica Camera AG

Alfred Eisenstaedt: VJ Day

Photo: Alfred Eisenstaedt: VJ Day, Times Square, NY, 14. August 1945, ©Alfred Eisenstaedt, 2015/ Leica Camera AG

F.C. Gundlach, Modereportage für Nino

Photo: F.C. Gundlach, Fashion report for Nino, Hamburger Hafen 1958, ©F.C. Gundlach

Jeff Mermelstein: Sidewalk

Photo: Jeff Mermelstein: Sidewalk, 1995, ©Jeff Mermelstein / Leica Camera AG

Bruce Gilden, Ohne Titel

Photo: Bruce Gilden, Untitled, from the series “GO”, 2001, ©Bruce Gilden 2015/Magnum Photos

The exhibition “EYES WIDE OPEN! 100 Years of Leica Photography” illuminates various aspects of 35mm photography, from journalistic strategies to documentary approaches and artistic positions. Among the artists whose work will be shown at Fotografie Forum Frankfurt across two floors are Nobuyoshi Araki, Jane Evelyn Atwood, Bruno Barbey, René Burri, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bruce Davidson, Michel Vanden Eeckhoudt, William Eggleston, Ralph Gibson, F. C. Gundlach, Elisabeth Hase, Fred Herzog, Barbara Klemm, Herbert List, Paula Luttringer, Susan Meiselas, Ulrich Mack, Joel Meyerowitz, Paolo Roversi, Jeanloup Sieff, Christer Strömholm, Kai Wiedenhöfer, Paul Wolff and Tom Wood. More than 200 photographs, supplemented by documentary material, including journals, magazines, books, advertisements, brochures, and camera prototypes, will recount the history of 35mm photography from its beginnings to the present day. The exhibition, which is curated by Hans-Michael Koetzle, follows the course of technological change and photographic history.

A camera for the new, high-speed era

According to an entry in the workshop records, Oskar Barnack, who worked as an industrial designer at Ernst Leitz in Wetzlar, completed the first functional model of a small-format camera for 35mm cinema film by March 1914 at the latest. The introduction of the Leica (a combination of “Leitz” and “Camera”) which was delayed until 1925 due to the war, was not merely the invention of a new camera. The small, reliable and always-ready-to-go Leica, equipped with a high-performance lens specially engineered by Max Berek, marked a paradigm shift in photography. Not only did it offer amateur photographers, newcomers and emancipated women greater access to photography; the Leica, which could be easily carried in a coat pocket, also became a ubiquitous part of everyday life. The comparatively affordable small-format camera stimulated photographic experimentation and opened up new perspectives. In general, visual strategies for representing the world became more innovative, bold and dynamic. Without question, the Leica developed by Oskar Barnack and introduced by Ernst Leitz II in 1924 was something like photography’s answer to the phenomenological needs of a new, high-speed era.

Icons of Photography and New Perspectives

The exhibition “EYES WIDE OPEN! 100 Years of Leica Photography” offers a comprehensive overview of the change in photography brought about by the invention and introduction of the Leica. Rather than isolating the history of the camera or considering it for its own sake, it will examine the visual revolution sparked by the technological innovation of the Leica. The exhibition will take an art- and cultural-historical perspective in pursuit of the question of how the photographic gaze changed as a result of the Leica and the small-format picture, and what effects the miniaturization of photography had on the work of amateurs, artists and photo-journalists. It will also seek to determine what new subjects the camera addressed with its wide range of interchangeable lenses, and how these subjects were seen in a new light: a new way of perceiving the world through the Leica viewfinder. As today the digital smartphone, the Leica camera revolutionized the way we deal with the world and how we perceive it.

Special sections are devoted to the avant-garde photography of the 20s and 30s, the Subjective Photography around 1950, the “Photographie Humaniste” in postwar France, Spanish and Japanese photography, the New Color Photography as well as fashion and contemporary photographers as auteurs.

This exhibition was first shown at the House of Photography at Deichtorhallen Hamburg in 2014 and it is a collaboration of the Fotografie Forum Frankfurt, the Curator Hans-Michael Koetzle and Leica Camera AG, who extensively opened its archive for this exhibition as never before.


Accompanying the exhibition, a comprehensive book with many illustrations and essays by Hans-Michael Koetzle. Texts by Alejandro Castellote, Michael Ebert, Peter Hamilton, Anton Holzer, Thomas Honickel, Hans-Michael Koetzle, Franziska Mecklenburg, Rebekka Reuter, Ulf Richter, Christoph Schaden, Emília Tavares, Enrica Viganò, Bernd Weise and Thomas Wiegand have been published at Kehrer Verlag, edited by Hans-Michael Koetzle. It is available in hardcover with 576 pages and 1.200 illustrations for 98 EUR.


Christer Strömholm. Nana, Place Blanche, Paris 1961, 2014.
18 x 21 cm print on 24 x 30 cm paper:
Hahnemühle Glossy Fine Art − Photo Rag Baryta 315 gram. 100% cotton.
Printed on Epson Stylus Pro 11880 with photo black Epson T 5911 ink.
Edition of 30+5 AP, numbered and stamped, signed by the estate of Christer Strömholm.
For 350 EUR incl. VAT available through the exhibition.

Special Events

Friday, March 13, 2015, 12 and 3pm
Curator tours with Hans-Michael Koetzle
The tour will be held in German.
More curator tours on Sunday, April 19, 3pm;
Saturday, April 25, 12 and 3pm; Sunday, April 26, 12 pm;
Friday, May 29, 12 and 3pm; Saturday, May 30, 12 and 3pm.
Guided tours in English and French on request.

Saturday, March 14, 2015, 6pm
Lecture “Storytelling with Pictures”
Jane Evelyn Atwood, US/FR, photographer of the exhibition “EYES WIDE OPEN!”
The lecture will be held in English.

Saturday/Sunday, March 14/15, 2015, 10am–6pm
Workshop “Storytelling with Pictures”
Jane Evelyn Atwood, US/FR, photographer of the exhibition “EYES WIDE OPEN!”
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The workshop will be held in English.

Thursday, March 26, 2015, 6pm
Hans-Michael Koetzle, curator of the LEICA exhibition, Munich
Venue: Leica Galerie Frankfurt, Grosser Hirschgraben 15, Frankfurt am Main
The lecture will be held in German.

Friday, April 17, 2015, 6pm
Lecture “Nolens Volens”
Paula Luttringer, AR/FR, photographer of the exhibition “EYES WIDE OPEN!”
The lecture will be held in English.

Saturday/Sunday, April 18/19, 2015, 10am–6pm
Workshop “art, MeMory, and reCovery”
Paula Luttringer, AR/FR, photographer of the exhibition “EYES WIDE OPEN!”
The workshop will be held in English.

Guided tours through the exhibition “EYES WIDE OPEN! 100 Years of Leica Photography” every Wednesday, 6pm.

This exhibition has been kindly supported by