Eyes Wide Open! 100 years of Leica photography. The camera that changed the world

10/05/2017
Eyes Wide Open! 100 years of Leica photography. The camera that changed the world
Fundación Telefónica [MAD] Spain
metalocus, JOSÉ JUAN BARBA
Christer Stromholm Nana, Place Blanche, Paris 1961 © Christer Stromholm Estate
Eyes Wide Open! 100 Years of Leica Photography is based on nearly 400 photographs, documentary material, interviews and objects from private collectors and museums and archives preserved from the Leica Archive, all appearing in Spain for the first time. A replica of the original Leica from 1913-14 and the first camera that was put in sale in 1925 are among the key exhibits.
Lightweight, small (scarcely 400 grams), compact, versatile and affordable are the attributes that define Leica, a camera that revolutionised the world of photography in the 1920s and  put photographic art within everybody's reach, amateurs and professionals alike.  With the exhibition EYES WIDE OPEN! 100 Years of Leica Photography,  Espacio Fundación Telefónica pays homage to the century-long lifetime of this camera and to the events, characters and actions it allowed to be portrayed and that have passed into history. A camera that stimulated photographic experimentation, represented a technological revolution, offered new perspectives and changed the way of seeing the world.
 
More than 100 photographs, among them Cartier-Bresson, F.C. Gundlach, Fred Herzog, Elisabeth Hase and Robert Capa, feature in the exhibition about this mythical camera, which represented a technological revolution, opened up new perspectives and changed the way the world was perceived.

As part of the program for the 20th Anniversary of the PHotoEspaña Festival 2017, the exhibition, produced by Leica and curated by Hans-Michael Koetzle, can be visited on the 3rd Floor of the Espacio Fundación Telefónica between 11 May and 10 September 2017. EYES WIDE OPEN! 100 Years of Leica Photography is based on nearly 400 photographs, documentary material from private collectors and museums - magazines, books, advertising posters, catalogues, interviews, as well as  documents and objects stored in the Leica Archive that are on show for the first time in Spain. A replica of the original Leica (Ur-Leica in German) from 1913-14 and the first camera that went on sale in 1925 are among some of the key exhibits that interact with the work of renowned international photographers of the stature of Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa, anonymous photographers, photojournalists and auteur experimental work.
 
Divided into eight areas, EYES WIDE OPEN! 100 Years of Leica Photography  presents a small format history of photography from its origins up to the present day by reproducing key moments in our recent history and providing a new perspective of the world. These various sections demonstrate, for the first time, the change that the invention and commercialization of the Leica camera represented for photography. What new subjects did it open up? What new visual approaches emerged? How did visual language evolve with its appearance?

The exhibition covers different historical and artistic periods such as Leica and the 'Neues Sehen' (New Vision), which develops the idea that Leica was fundamental in creating a new visual language; 'Photojournalism', in that the new camera made it possible to take one picture straight after another, at speed, which favoured the newly emerging genre of reporting; 'Subjective Photography', now any amateur with experience could also create artistic photos; ‘Humanist Photography', set in the urban universe with everyday life shown as a theatrical performance; 'The new colour photography'; 'Fashion Photography and the Leica Camera', the special features of the Leica M favoured the aesthetic acquired by fashion photography and ‘Auteur Photography' with a range of various types of creatives who used different resources.

The origin of the Leica camera

In June 1914, Oskar Barnack, an engineer for Leitz (Wetzlar, Germany), the leading manufacturer of microscopes, constructed the first working model of a compact camera that used 35 mm cinematic film. The idea Barnack had in mind was to make a small, light camera that allowed photos to be taken one after the other in a quick and simple way using cine film already available on the market which was therefore comparatively less expensive. The camera was dubbed Leica (= Leitz / Camera) in 1925 using the slogan 'Small negatives, big pictures'. The Leica was not only compact, reliable and quick to use, but also included a high-performance lens designed by Max Berek, forcing a paradigm shift in the world of photography.

Emerging in the midst of the interwar period, the Leica was launched by Ernst Leitz in the spring of 1925 in a period of dramatic changes across all spheres. The First World War, the November Revolution in Germany and the October Revolution in Russia marked new milestones in breaking down the social order. The most visible manifestations of growing technological progress were cars, aeroplanes and skyscrapers. The art world reacted with movements such as Constructivism, Dadism and Futurism. The Leica camera provided the photographic medium's response to the emerging needs of a new age marked by startling changes. A camera capable of fitting in a coat pocket became the essential companion of not only professional photographers but also amateurs and emancipated women, thus converting photography into a natural part of everyday life. The Leica represented a technological revolution akin to the mobile phones of today.
Dates
The exhibition can be visited between 11
May and 10 September
Venue
Fundación Telefónica. On the 3rd Floor.
C/ Fuencarral, 3, Madrid. Spain