Anne Darling Photography

Lothar Wolleh (1930-1979, German)

Lothar Wolleh was born in Berlin on January 20th 1930 and brought up in a Germany that had been shaped by war and Nazism.

Between 1950 and 1956 Wolleh spent six years in a Soviet labour camp in Siberia. Originally he had been charged with spying by the Russians and sentenced to 15 years hard labour mining ore underground but he was pardoned after the German Chancellor Adenauer secured the release in 1956 of the remaining German prisoners of war. Josef Beuys said that Wolleh had been shaped by these experiences "which were terrible".

Self Portrait by Lothar Wolleh
Self Portrait by Lothar Wolleh

Wolleh was a very successful commercial photographer but he is best remembered for the creative portraits he made of famous artists and sculptors. He photographed the artists surrounded by their work, incorporating his own ideas into the composition in such a way that his photographs combine art and documentary at one and the same time.

Jean Tinguely by Lothar Wolleh
Jean Tinguely by Lothar Wolleh

Wolleh always knew in advance what he wanted in the final image. He claimed his work was never accidental and he knew how to capture with his camera the essential qualities in an artist although he was said to be demanding of his sitters.

Lothar Wolleh - Mrs. Wolleh with Children
Mrs Wolleh with Children: Painting by Gerhard Richter

The German painter Gerhard Richter used one of Wolleh's photographs of Mrs. Wolleh as the basis for the above painting. Richter's paintings which are based on photographs are all blurred, and in Mrs. Wolleh with Children, the effect is pronounced. The painting is a personal document of his friendship with Wolleh and his family and a more generalised image of motherhood.

Lothar Wolleh - Painting 1b by Lothar Wolleh
Gerhard Richter Interacting with his Painting: Photo by Lothar Wolleh

Wolleh also made many photographs of artists at work and the above is a wonderful example of Richter in front of his own painting. Wolleh used a slow shutter speed to create motion blur and the impression that Richter is one with the canvas itself.

Lothar Wolleh - Portrait of Magritte
Magritte: Photo by Lothar Wolleh

Wolleh visited the great surreal painter Magritte and his wife Georgette several times in 1966 and 1967. In the above photograph by Wolleh, Magritte has painted the shape of a woman around his portrait.

Henry Moore by Lothar Wolleh
Henry Moore by Wolleh

Wolleh died in 1979 in London just after having completed a photographic portrait of Henry Moore.

All photographs are by kind permission of Dr. Oliver Wolleh, Lothar Wolleh's son.

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