Herbert List: Photography 1932 - 1961

Installation view, Herbert List, Photographie 1932-1961, Galerie Karsten Greve AG, St. Moritz, 2022
Installation view, Herbert List, Photographie 1932-1961, Galerie Karsten Greve AG, St. Moritz, 2022
19.02.22 - 11.06.22

Galerie Karsten Greve AG St. Moritz

Monday - Saturday 10 am – 1 pm | 2 pm – 6 pm

The exhibition will be extended until June 11, 2022. 


on Saturday, February 19, from 2pm to 7pm

Galerie Karsten Greve AG is pleased to present HERBERT LIST Photography 1932 - 1961, the first solo exhibition in St. Moritz dedicated to one of the most important photographers of the 20th century. On view will be photo essays, photo reports and portraits from the artist's estate, including numerous vintage gelatin silver prints, most of which were taken during Herbert List's stays in the Mediterranean region. As much a bon vivant and educational traveler as an artist, professional photographer, and a collector of 16th to 18th-century Italian Old Master drawings, Herbert List felt closely connected to Italy. Herbert List created a unique body of work that is strongly influenced by the artistic approaches of the European avant-garde. Combining the formal austerity of Bauhaus with the magic of surrealist inspiration, he has developed his own unique visual language, always committed to making the magic of the captured moments tangible to the viewer.

Often described as the "photographer of silence," Herbert List found his inspiration in ancient ruins, bodies, and urban places. Numerous travels took him to the Greek islands, Italy, Southern France, Spain and Morocco and had a profound impact on his visual language. In the tradition of Surrealism, shadow, even more than light, is significant to the works of the young photographer. By playing with reflections and double exposures, he created subtle and enigmatic images in the 1930s, that oscillate in a unique way between reality and dream.

In the early 1950s, Herbert List developed a more spontaneous style, the starting point being the "View from the Window" series. Confined to his apartment after a foot injury, List begins to capture everyday scenes out of the window in the working-class neighborhood of Trastevere in Rome. Here he uses a 35 mm camera (Leica) with a telephoto lens for the first time, capturing scenes of life on the piazza. Random props such as a motorcycle, a rubber tire, dogs and street workers become statists and spectators within the white-marked traffic lanes.

Herbert List traveled to South America at a young age, first as an entrepreneur, and then frequently to the Mediterranean region. He always had his camera with him. Driven by the "joy of perceiving", the self-taught photographer trained his eye on his travels. Herbert List develops a unique eye, which captures the magic of the moment "in such a way that the meaning behind them is revealed".

Born in Hamburg in 1903, the son of Felix List of coffee importers List & Heineken, Herbert List started an apprenticeship with a Heidelberg coffee wholesaler in 1921 while studying art history and literature at Heidelberg University, attending lectures, for instance, given by Friedrich Gundolf, a professor of German philology, Goethe scholar, and member of the George circle. His encounter with photographer Andreas Feininger, who introduced him to the reflex camera (Rolleiflex), inspired Herbert List to take up photography in 1930. Influenced by Surrealism and the Bauhaus, he began shooting still life and portraits. In 1936, he emigrated to London and Paris; most of the time between 1937 and 1941, he spent in Greece. In 1941, to avoid internment, he fled to Munich. Being drafted into the Wehrmacht, the German armed forces, in 1944, he served in Norway until the end of the war. After his return to Germany, the American military government eventually admitted him as a photo reporter after he had been forbidden to officially publish or work in Germany. In 1946, he took photos of the ruins in bombed-out Munich. He became art editor of Heute magazine. In 1952, he joined Magnum, the international photographic cooperative, in Paris and traveled Italy. He completed several book projects. From the mid-1960s, he devoted himself almost entirely to his collection of Italian Old Master drawings. Herbert List died in Munich in 1975.

The artist's estate, formerly in the care of Max Scheler from 1975 to 2003, is currently managed by Peer-Olaf Richter in Hamburg. Since Herbert List's first solo exhibition in Paris in 1937, his oeuvre has been shown in numerous international exhibitions and published in internationally renowned magazines. His works are held in notable public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Art, Boston, Kunsthaus Zürich, the Fotomuseum (now Sammlung Fotografie) at Münchner Stadtmuseum, Munich, the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, Museum Ludwig in Cologne, and the Musée Picasso in Paris.

Exhibited works



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