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Hans Steiner - Diary of a Modern Life

Event Details

Hans Steiner - Diary of a Modern Life

Time: October 29, 2011 to January 29, 2012
Location: Médiathèque Valais Martigny
Street: Avenue de la Gare 15
City/Town: 1920 Martigny, Switzerland
Website or Map:
Phone: 027 722 91 92
Event Type: exhibition
Organized By: Médiathèque Valais Martigny
Latest Activity: Jul 5, 2011

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Event Description

After Lausanne and Winterthour, the exhibition Hans Steiner produced by the Musée de l'Elysée is presented at the Médiathèque Valais Martigny.

Hans Steiner (1907–1968) as a photographer is very representative of the golden age of Swiss photography. During this time, from the 1930s to the 1950s, there emerged a generation of photographers who distinguished themselves in the field of photojournalism. Compared to the famous FSA (Farm Security Administration) during years of the Great Depression in the United States, their images devoted considerable attention to documenting the victims of the crisis. Unemployment, the pauperization of people in the countryside and rising political tensions were among the topics most often addressed by photojournalists. If Hans Steiner was a major figure of this page in the history of photography, he also stood out by his choice of subjects: sport, leisure, urban life and the consumer society, of which he recorded the first emergence. While his colleagues have demonstrated a degree of pessimism as the political and economic situation continued to deteriorate, his confidence in the future never seemed to waiver.

Before the Second World War, Steiner worked with the Swiss illustrated press, whose growth was spectacular. His pictures were published in major magazines throughout the country: Sie und Er, the Schweizer Illustrierte and Die Woche. He published photographs of attempts to climb the north face of the Eiger, of which many turned into tragedy. His photographs taken at the time found their way around the world, some of them even became icons. Today’s audiences can still experience their impact on cinema. After the war, Steiner gradually converted to activities other than photojournalism. He did more and more commissions for companies and worked in advertising.
He travelled in Europe and Asia. His images of Palestine at the time of the creation of the State of Israel, notably the architecture of Tel Aviv, have the greatest interest today.

Historians of Swiss photography have so far focused mainly on stories related to the crisis of the 1930s. They favoured a certain point of view of their work, inspired by the “decisive moment”, a famous theory that we allocate to Cartier-Bresson. The ambition of the Hans Steiner exhibition is to enrich the vision we have of the inter-war years in Switzerland and to appeal to notions more recent than the “decisive moment.” 

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