Museum Ludwig pays homage to Werner Mantz (1901-1983) – one of the most prominent photographers of the Neues Bauen movement of modernist architecture during the 1920s. Born and raised in Cologne, in 1921 he opened a photo studio, where he initially took portraits of famous intellectuals, artists, and politicians. In 1926 he began receiving commissions as an architectural photographer for Wilhelm Riphahn, Peter Franz Nöcker and Caspar Maria Grod. It was Mantz’s pictures that made Cologne’s modernist architecture renowned beyond the boundaries of the city.
Curator Miriam Halwani: “Mantz photographed modern architecture and children looking seriously into the camera on their first communion. As banal as his subjects seem, during the preparations for the exhibition I was surprised by the coolness and eeriness that his pictures exude. The buildings that he photographed are devoid of people, clean, almost virtual. We do not know the identities of the people in the portraits taken in his studio in the 1950s. In a way, we are only left with outer shells. And it is precisely for this reason that the these pictures persist in our memory.”
Werner Mantz, Architectures and People, 14 October – 21 January, Museum Ludwig, Cologne.
1. Werner Mantz, Café Wien, Cologne, 1929, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017, Photo: Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln, Cologne.