17 June 2011 - 2 October 2011
Rudolf Koppitz
Komposition, 1925

The first twenty years after the invention of photography were marked by pioneers and experiments before the technical medium entered a phase of enormous dynamics. The foundation of the Photographic Society in Vienna in 1861 was a crucial event within the beginning professionalization of the production of pictures which was to pervade all spheres of life. Whether as scientific proof in a laboratory or studio portrait, a picture postcard in front of a tourist attraction or a large-size reproduction of a museum’s work of art, whether serving the purposes of industry, trade, or public administration - the photograph conquered new terrains in an ever more perfect quality and multiple numbers.

The members of the Photographic Society came from a wide range of professions and pursued many different objectives. Their regular meetings were not only aimed at an exchange of abstract technical knowledge, but increasingly at conceiving strategies for the enforcement of economic interests. This field of tension was also reflected in numerous exhibitions and the society’s magazine Photographische Correspondenz. The involved lobby’s pressure not only led to the foundation of the Graphische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt as the first institution of its kind in the world but also to the enactment of a copyright law for photographs. The medium’s successful professionalization drove amateurs with artistic ambitions to found their own associations before 1900. While there was only little room for innovations in the scientific use of photography after World War I, outstanding teachers and, above all, students of the “Graphische” lent Austrian photography between the wars its own specific new profile.

Presenting about 260 outstanding examples of Austrian photography dating from before 1945, the exhibition in the Albertina will shed light on both the range and quality of the pictures produced by the Photographic Society’s members. Exhibits from the fields of art, science, and innovative applications of commercial photography convey a fascinating impression of the paths leading into today’s flood of images.




Hermann Heid

Viehauktion in Wien, um 1871 
Maria Schanda (Köln), 1933

Trude Fleischmann 
Paul Freiberger

Im Springturm, um 1931  
Philipp Remélé Döbbelin

Installations Shot der Fototausstellung Berlin 1865, 1865 
Dora Kallmus und Arthur Benda

Anna Pawlowa, 1913 
Josef Maria Eder und Eduard Valenta

Zanclus cornutus, Acanthurus nigros, 1896 
Ludwig Angerer

Objektivprobe (Steinheil), vier Männer in Atelierdekoration, 1867  
Dora Kallmus und Arthur Benda

Alban Berg, 1909 
Robert von Stockert

Blumenstilleben, um 1900