oak recommends: Karlheinz Weinberger – Intimate Stranger

NY’s Swiss Institute proudly presents the first institutional exhibition of vintage prints by the late Karlheinz Weinberger (1921-2006). An unsung pioneer of vernacular photography since the Fifties, Weinberger captured a young generation of rebels, who were greatly influenced by American culture.

For most of his adult life, Karlheinz Weinberger worked by day in the warehouse department of the Siemens-Albis factory in Zurich. In his free time, however, he escaped monotony by immersing himself in photography. Self-taught and working under the pseudonym of Jim, Weinberger began his artistic career by taking pictures for a gay underground club, Der Kreis, which published the eponymous magazine.

In 1958, Weinberger met members of a small band of teenagers and began photographing them both at his home, as well as at the public parks and fairgrounds where the group gathered. In post-war Switzerland, these self-named “rebels” (referred to by the Swiss as “Halbstark” or “half strong”) were comprised of working class boys and girls dissatisfied by the conservative climate of the day. They adopted a powerful gang identity expressed in their self styled and homemade clothing–embellished jeans, motorcycle jackets, enlarged belt buckles–which referenced and emulated American icons Marlon Brando (in The Wild One), James Dean (in Rebel Without a Cause), Elvis Presley (in the film and album Jailhouse Rock).

The first exhibition, opening Wednesday at the Swiss Institute at 495 Broadway, will present an overview of Mr. Weinberger’s work along with some of the jackets and jeans seen in the images. A second show, opening Feb. 11 at the Anna Kustera Gallery at 520 West 21st Street, will include posthumously printed color images, which are being shown publicly for the first time.

via the new york times and the swiss institute

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