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Pictorialism is one of the most multifaceted chapters in the history of photography in terms of its international networking, its contention with painting and its diverse range of technical forms. In art photography around 1900, a photographic style emerged that was primarily supported by ambitious amateurs that distinguished itself from established professional studios.

Starting in the 1980s, it gained recognition as an art form with innovative pictorial designs and aesthetic considerations of photography. As an exhibition organiser, editor and collector, Ernst Juhl (1850–1915) was one of the most important promoters of the pictorialist movement in Europe. His collection was acquired by the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg and the Kunstbibliothek Berlin. Here, along with the Collection Matthies-Masuren, it forms the core of their holdings of artistic photography around 1900 and was the starting point of the research project.

The project aims at an interdisciplinary analysis of the phenomenon of pictorialism that includes media studies as well as art history and the sociology of art. The international symposium "Inspirations – Interactions: Pictorialism Reconsidered” was the main starting point for networking and discussion. It took place from 2123 November 2013, in the lecture hall of the Museum für Fotografie. In the context of the project, the pictorialist holdings of the Kunstbibliothek were also fully catalogued and processed. Together with the Kaufhold archive, the study of these holdings forms the basis for the Piktorialismus-Portal research database. The contributions of the symposium are also published online in this digital resource.

Academic team: Dr. Ludger Derenthal, Christine Kühn, Claudia Pfeiffer, Ulrich Rüter, Kunstbibliothek; Lars Spengler, freelance researcher
Supported by: the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM)
Project duration: 2013 to 2014