Amateur Photography. From Bauhaus to Instagram

Financed through the Bauhaus Today Fund

Based on the achievements of the Bauhaus, this Hamburg exhibition focused on the role of the amateur and his/her potential to innovate photography. The stylistic devices which have since been canonised under the label “Bauhaus photography”, e.g. angling the camera up or down, were based on amateur snapshots. For the Bauhäusler, the figure of the amateur “snapshooter”, which dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, embodied the untrained (and therefore, unspoiled) photographic perspective. Consequently, snapshooting served as the background and point of reference in central Bauhaus texts on photography. At the end of the 1920s, Bauhäusler like Werner Graeff, László Moholy-Nagy and Lucia Moholy made the photographic amateur the focus of their publications and called on readers to push the boundaries of photography and explore the world through the camera. They proposed reassessing the possibilities of photography and hoped to animate amateurs to pursue their own artistic endeavours. The exhibition in Hamburg focused on amateurs at the Bauhaus – the breaking of aesthetic rules, the specific way they captured the reality of life, and their ideas for changing society. A second focus addresses the “new” digital amateur; in participative projects based on photo collections by amateurs, the exhibition aimed to reveal the social and political relevance of works of contemporary amateur photography. The exhibition included historical snapshots, Bauhaus photography and international contemporary works which use amateur material, as well as amateur photos on photo-sharing portals like Instagram and participative projects.

Artistic director: Esther Ruelfs


No upcoming events at present

Previous events

  • 3 October, 2019 to 12 January, 2020: Exhibition

    Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg


Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

Steintorplatz 1
20099 Hamburg (external link, opens in a new window)