ERICH HARTMANN – A Selection of Vintage Photographs at CLAIR, Munich, 3.12.2009
This exhibit is a reunion of old friends: Anna-Patricia Kahn, Ruth Hartmann and the spirit of Erich Hartmann, represented here by his photographs.
The story began more than a decade ago over lunch near the Viktualienmarkt in Munich. Whenever, in his travels as a photo-journalist, Erich came through Munich he met with Peter Ebel of FOCUS Magazine to discuss ideas for the magazine. This time they agreed on two subjects, both in New York City, Erich’s home: The Diamond District, centered on a block of West 47th Street and The Juilliard String Quartet. We three, Erich, Anna-Patricia, assigned as writer for both stories, and I spent busy, pleasant days together in New York working and talking about diamonds and music. It was a happy collaboration that resulted in two successful stories. After Erich’s sudden and unexpected death in early 1999 there was a tearful telephone conversation between Anna-Patricia in Jerusalem where she was working and me in New York. Our paths then diverged and there was silence between us until the Spring of 2009 when Anna-Patricia phoned from Munich to ask if she and her partner Markus Penth could mount an exhibit of Erich’s Vintage prints in their Munich gallery, CLAIR.
This is not only a reunion but also a symbolic return to place. Erich Hartmann was born in Munich in a woman’s hospital near Sendlinger Tor in 1922. His childhood was spent in the beautiful river city of Passau until his father’s business was appropriated by the Nazis whose young sons regularly beat up their Jewish schoolmates. The family fled to Munich, seeking invisibility in a big city until the political terror passed, a madness that seemed unthinkable in cultured Central Europe in the country of Beethoven, Bach and Goethe.
Yet the terror persisted and intensified and in 1938 the family – father, mother and three children, Erich at sixteen the eldest – fled once again via Berlin and Hamburg to the United States.
Erich returned briefly to Bavaria as an American soldier near the end of the Second World War, and in later years, as a successful photo-journalist, on many assignments. Now his friends invite you to view these photographs which are here to say, “I am back and here is my work”.