A friend of the Academy has died: Dr. Dr. Rolf Herbert Krauss.
(born December 13, 1930 in Stuttgart , died January 2, 2021 in Stuttgart)
At the annual meetings of the German Photographic Academy in Leinfelden-Echterdingen, the Stuttgart art historian, collector and author Rolf H. Krauss was a quiet but attentive guest. He became its member and became deeply involved in the happenings of this "photographic community" - a term he introduced in 1998.
I gratefully experienced his interest in the then FA GDL/DFA as its chairman in the years from 1983 to 1992, a time of political, social and media change. Here, the generational change from the old "elitist" GDL to the young, democratically constituted academy took place, combined with the critical reappraisal of its history before and after 1945. The German reunification in 1989 also fell into this period and demanded new thinking beyond regional borders. And with the concept of the "medium of photography" came expanded forms of "media art," especially "conceptual art," in which photography played an important role. However, these movements did not originate directly within the DFA, but were rather brought to it from outside and had an effect on its work.
In 1979, Rolf H. Krauss had published "Zehn Thesen zur konventionellen und konzeptionellen Photographie" (Ten Theses on Conventional and Conceptual Photography), a programmatic paper to justify his collection "Kunst mit Photographie" (Art with Photography), which was first shown at the National Gallery in Berlin in 1983. Today it is in the possession of the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart and contains exclusively works according to the second, the "conceptual" reading. With them, however, a change in perception, a paradigm, took place: from the traditional view through the camera to the outside - to the view from the outside into the camera and its inner relationships; the medium of photography became the object of photography. But this change of view occurred only gradually, and most academy members found it difficult to get out of their traditional view of the photograph as a pictorial document.
A visit of the academy to the Stuttgart exhibition rooms of the collector was exemplary for this, I still remember vividly: skepticism, even perplexity on the part of many members towards what could be viewed there - and an engaged collector who knew how to justify his things cleverly and convincingly.
But this difference did not divide us - collector and academy. On the contrary. The photographic difference and diversity was thematized, and it united us more than it divided us. This is how Rolf H. Krauss formulated the laudatory speech for John Hilliard, the 1986 recipient of the David Octavius Hill Medal. Krauss was also a generous lender in 1989 with works by Timm Ulrichs for the anniversary exhibition "Document and Invention. 70 Years of GDL/DFA" - just to mention these examples. Finally, with Beate Reese of the Würzburg Art Museum, we became co-authors of the book "Concrete Photography/Konkrete Fotografie" (Bielefeld 2005). This led to a friendship all our own, in which the "you", used until the end, never really stood in our way.
Most recently, his book "Ich sammle also bin ich. Sammeln als Lebensentwurf" (Bielefeld 2019), a convincing self-testimony of a special kind. It describes the creation and whereabouts of no less than twenty collections. The photographic collections, such as "Kunst mit Photographie" (Art with Photography), "Kameras" (Cameras), and above all the "Bibliothek zur Photographie" (Library of Photography), the culmination of his passion, form a focal point. The collector no longer experiences their visualization. He was aware of this when he decided to donate his "Dr. Rolf H. Krauss Research Library", which had grown to 16,000 titles, to the Marburg University Library. In the future, it will be housed in the new DDK building currently under construction. Thus his legacy will live on for generations. The inauguration of this incomparable deed is pending.
The merits of Rolf H. Krauss for our subject cannot be adequately acknowledged here. We met an important personality of photography to whom we owe decisive contributions to its art and science. We will cherish the memory of our guest, supporter and friend.
Prof. Dr. Gottfried Jäger