Photography in both the applied and artistic fields has developed into a key medium. We find photographic images everywhere, in newspapers and magazines, on posters and on the Internet. They represent reality and at the same time are merely interpretations of what we see, yet they shape our worldview and our thoughts, some consciously, others unconsciously. For many years, advertising and fashion images have entered into the museum context as a matter of course and are the subject of art historical discourse. And interdisciplinary image/iconographic sciences scarcely distinguish any longer between image sources in advertising, media, journalism, mobile phone photography or art of analogue or digital provenance. We should also keep track of this radical development and complex interaction from a curatorial perspective.
At the same time however, traditionally popular themes such as flowers, animals or cars in contemporary photography can also be exciting if one takes a closer look. This is why - in addition to my primary occupation as curator of the Helmut Newton Foundation - I have also devoted myself to such motifs in exhibitions and publications. Photographs can enchant and disturb, excite and amuse us. No other modern medium in art and society has such an impact, which, interestingly enough, we do not always perceive directly.
As a qualified art historian, however, I am not only interested in photography in its two-dimensional form, but in practically all visual arts - especially since many artists also counteract or ignore clear medial or categorising definitions. And thus we are confronted with an expansive artistic mindset, with interventions and irritations in the museum context and in public space. The themes and intentions of contemporary art and culture remain decisive, and a curator should see himself primarily as an assistant or provider of ideas. In the best case we curators can work out, comment on and point out formal or content-related aspects, fundamentally sharpen perception of art and photography - and put together art exhibitions as a pleasure for the senses and the intellect.
Matthias Harder, Berlin 2018