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6 December 2013 to 2 March 2014

From 6 December 2013 WestLicht will be showing early photographs from the legendary image collection of the National Geographic Society. Soon after its founding in 1888, the Society recognized the power of the photographic medium and started illustrating the articles of its magazine with photographs. This became not only the cornerstone of National Geographic Magazine’s global popularity, but also the starting point of a collection of over 11 million images today, 500,000 of which are early black-and-white prints. Since its beginnings, it has been the Magazine’s mission to bring the world into its readers’ living rooms. Foreign cultures, grand landscapes and wild animals were scaled down to magazine format, at first for an American audience only.

Coinciding with National Geographic’s 125th anniversary, the exhibition presents a selection of photographic highlights from the founding days of the magazine up to the 1950s. It is the first time National Geographic has opened its vintage-archive for a museum exhibition in Europe. Pictures by early National Geographic photographers like Maynard Owen Williams, Edwin Wisherd and Clifton Adams, who helped to shape National Geographic Magazine’s reputation as one of photojournalism’s finest, will be presented alongside works by such famous names as Ansel Adams, Herbert Ponting, Wilhelm von Gloeden, Vittorio Sella and George Rodger, which were published in the Magazine or acquired by the National Geographic Society for its collection.

As early as 1914, National Geographic began to include color photography into its magazine. Alongside the 200 black and white prints of the exhibition, a slide show will present an outlook into this colored world.

In cooperation with the National Geographic Image Collection. Curated by Fabian Knierim and Rebekka Reuter

All images © National Geographic Image Collection

HERBERT PONTING, Dog on the British Antarctic expedition, 1911/12
GEORGE SHIRAS, Flashlight photograph of a deer at night, Whitefish Lake, Minnesota, USA 1906
N. E. BECKWITH, Loggers in front of a Giant Redwood Tree, Sequoia National Park, California, USA 1892
ARTHUR RADCLYFFE DUGMORE, A rhino charges the photographer, Kenya 1908
EDWIN L. WISHERD, Visitors stop to observe blackbears on the side of the road, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA 1940
GILBERT H. GROSVENOR, On the slopes of Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii 1924
MAYNARD OWEN WILLIAMS, Man on the side of the road from Beirut to Sidon, Syria 1926