Ute Eskildsen

Biographical Information

Prof. Ute Eskildsen, born in 1947 in Itzehoe, is deputy director of the Museum Folkwang in Essen and head of the museum’s Photographic Collection.

Eskildsen studied photography and history of photography at the Folkwang School of Design in Essen. She began her career working as a freelance photographer and as an assistant to Otto Steinert. In 1973 she opened a photography gallery along with students and organized numerous exhibitions of contemporary photography. In 1979 she became curator of photography at the Museum Folkwang, where she was given the task of establishing and running a photography department. In 1991 Ute Eskildsen was appointed deputy director of the Museum Folkwang.

In the 1980s Eskildsen was commissioned by the Goethe-Institut to develop a series of exhibitions on contemporary German photography, the first of its kind to be mounted. She served as a guest curator at the Busch-Reisinger Museum in Cambridge, Mass., and as a visiting scholar at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles.

Eskildsen has initiated several grant programmes, including the “Stipendium zeitgenössischer deutscher Fotografie” (scholarship for contemporary German photography), started in 1982, and a programme for curators specializing in photography that has been running since 2000 – both organized in cooperation with and funded by the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Stiftung – as well as the “Albert Renger-Patzsch Award”, a prize for European photographic books that has been awarded by the Dietrich Oppenberg Stiftung since 1991. Ute Eskildsen is also responsible for the “Documentary Photography Awards” sponsored by the Wüstenrot Stiftung.

In addition to her numerous catalogue publications, Eskildsen has published widely on individual photographers and various aspects of photography. Since 1979 she has given countless talks and run workshops at national and international universities, photographic institutions, museums and photography festivals.

In 1991 Ute Eskildsen was admitted to the Order of “Chevaliers des Arts et des Lettres” on the recommendation of the French culture minister Jack Lang. In 2000 she was given the title of Professor by the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia. In 2009 she received the Bundesverdienstorden der Bundesrepublik Deutschland.

Exhibitions (selected)

  • “A Star is Born: Photography and Rock since Elvis” (2010)
  • “Paul Graham. Fotografien 1981 bis 2006” (2009)
  • “Street & Studio. An Urban History of Photography” (2008, cooperation with Tate Modern, London)
  • “The Photographed Animal: Useful, Cute and Collected” (2005)
  • “Roni Horn” (2004)
  • “Still-Lifes – Irving Penn” (2001)
  • “Robert Frank. Hold Still – Keep Going” (2000, cooperation with Reina Sofia, Madrid)
  • “Sarah Jones. Farbfotografien” (1999)
  • “Rineke Dijkstra. Menschenbilder” (1998)
  • “Maria Nordman. Some early works – Kontinuierliche Bezugsfelder” (1997)
  • “Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. Fotogramme 1922–1943” (1996, cooperation with Centre Pompidou, Paris)
  • “Fotografieren hieß teilnehmen. Fotografinnen der Weimarer Republik” (1994)
  • “Das Sammeln – Die Sammler-Fotografien aus Privatbesitz” (1991)
  • “Werbefotografie in Deutschland seit den 20er Jahren” (1989)
  • “Carole Conde, Karl Beveridge, Robert Del Tredici. Fotografie und Politik” (1988)
  • “Gerald van der Kaap und Thomas Florschuetz” (1987)
  • “Reste des Authentischen. Deutsche Fotobilder der 80er Jahre” (1986)
  • “Helmar Lerski. Lichtbildner” (1983)
  • “Absage an das Einzelbild. Erfahrungen mit Bildfolgen in der Fotografie der 70er Jahre” (1980)
  • “Film und Foto der 20er Jahre. Eine Betrachtung der Internationalen Werkbundausstellung ‘Film und Foto’, 1929” (1979)

All of the above exhibitions were conceived for and first held at the Museum Folkwang; many also became travelling exhibitions

Ute Eskildsen 2008, Copyright: Tim Rautert
Ute Eskildsen
Head of the Photographic Collection | Museum Folkwang, Essen

Contemporary art

Ute Eskildsen