In photography one should surely proceed from essence of the object and attempt to represent it with photographic terms alone.
Renger-Patzsch's Die Welt ist Schön [The world is beautiful], published by Kurt Wolff of Munich in 1928, is one of the great projects in the history of photography. A concrete realisation of the possibilities inherent in photography, which Talbot had envisaged just under a century before, its influence on photographers across the world was profound. This image of glasses and that of insulators also included in this exhibition were found in its pages, along with other industrial objects and photographs of animals and plants in their natural environment. It was an astonishing study of the world, celebrating beauty wherever the photographer found it.
Technology and mass production was hailed by Renger-Patzsch as the purveyor of a new order of beauty in the modern world – and he sought to find and express its essence photographically. He worked hard to work out the best and most effective way to do this: in 1937, writing about the images in his already famous book, he stated that: 'these photographs consciously portray the attraction and charm of the surface'. The National Gallery holds 121 images by Renger-Patzsch, including those reproduced in Die Welt ist Schön.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra