A New Objectivity: Ernst Jünger
and Albert Renger-Patzsch
Special Collections Dept., University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries,
Norlin Library Room N345
September 25 – December 20, 2013
Thursdays and Fridays 1 to 5 pm
Free and open to the public. For more information call 303-492-6144.
The works of the German author and philosopher Ernst Jünger (1895-1998) are often described as being cold, analytical, and unfeeling. The same words are often used to describe the work of photographers associated with the New Objectivity, who claimed German photographer Albert Renger-Patzsch’s (1897-1966) The World is Beautiful as a manifesto. The goal of these photographers was not to make art, but to document objects as they were, capturing and reproducing their essence and form through a technological process. Jünger, also disavowing photography as art, saw that it was a natural complement to his way of viewing the world. This worldview emphasized the concrete immediacy and shock of pain and danger as a way of combating the insulated and sensitive world of the bourgeoisie. Jünger, who contributed essays to several books of photographs, wrote in 1934 that photography is representative of “an insensitive and invulnerable eye,” one which doesn’t turn away from pain or danger, but coolly records everything. The proper photography books could act as primers for a more concrete experience and aid in the creation of a new humanity hardened against the trials of modern life and especially the pain caused by modern war.
Jünger’s works, especially his early ones, are not emotive. His early writings are documents of decisiveness and the characters are hard surfaces that are constantly in motion, matter-of-fact creations that resist introspection. Renger-Patzsch’s photographs also portray a mundane surface world. They are almost always devoid of people, and when people do appear, they are small and indistinguishable from the city- and landscapes they populate. Machines and nature share equal status; the formal similarities between the spirals of a flower and a cast iron cylinder are highlighted. His photographs make no attempt to divine or hint at anything deeper than the outside; rather they often focus on minute details of commonplace objects, forcing the viewer to fashion new perspectives in order to make sense of them.
Although both men’s work from the 1920s and 30s share strong affinities, their earliest correspondence dates from 1943. It wasn’t until 1960 that they began their collaboration on two books which paired Renger-Patzsch’s photographs of trees and rocks with dendrological and geological captions, and contained essays by Jünger. Although the encounter was belated, their early works each gain something when viewed in relation to one another.
About Ernst Jünger:
Ernst Jünger (1895-1998) was a German writer, philosopher, and entomologist. Jünger served in World War I, was wounded 7 times and was the youngest recipient of Germany’s highest military honor. His war experiences provided him with material for much of his early work.
One of the most controversial and enduring German authors of the 20th century, Jünger was part of the “Conservative Revolution” in Weimar Germany. Jünger received Germany's highest literary honor, the Goethe Prize, in 1982. Jünger was a respected naturalist and entomologist who left behind a collection of more than 40,000 beetles, now housed at his estate in Wilflingen, Germany. Along with one plant, there are 14 species, four subspecies, and one sub-genus of animals named after Jünger.
About Albert Renger-Patzsch:
Albert Renger-Patzsch (1897-1966) was a German photographer. Renger-Patzsch disapproved of the techniques employed in pictorial photography; he focused on details and surfaces with such clarity that the object photographed became detached from its wider context. He exposed the structures of the material world, juxtaposing manmade with natural images to stress their links with the underlying immutable, structural laws. With his concentration on detail, as in the scientific illustrations he admired, Renger-Patzsch believed that photography extended man’s understanding, regarding as successful a photograph rooted in realism with aesthetic qualities that were derived from the practice of photography rather than the fine arts. Natural and industrial images served as models for beauty, particularly in The World is Beautiful (1928), where they were set side by side and unified by their formal similarities. Revealing the aesthetic qualities of a wide range of objects in this way broadened the scope of visual representation and influenced the development of photography in the context of advertising.
(Taken and adapted from the Oxford Art Online biography of Albert Renger-Patzsch)
About the collections:
The bulk of the Ernst Jünger collection previously belonged to Gerhard Loose, who was a professor of German at CU-Boulder and author of one of the first biographies of Jünger. Many of the books in the collection are inscribed to Loose by Jünger, including one that reads “To my Promachus.”
The Albert Renger-Patzsch books belong to the David H. Tippit Collection.
Special thanks to Dr. Frank Krell and Jeff Stephenson of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science for helping to make this exhibition possible.
A New Objectivity: Ernst Jünger and Albert Renger-Patzsch is curated by Ross Etherton.
1. Jünger, Ernst. In Stahlgewittern: Ein Kriegstagebuch (Storm of Steel: A War Diary). Berlin: E.S. Mittler, 1934. D640 .J692 1934
2. ---. In Stahlgewittern (Storm of Steel). Berlin: E.S. Mittler, 1929. D640 .J692 1929
3. ---. In Stahlgewittern (Storm of Steel). Berlin: E.S. Mittler, 1930. D640 .J692 1930
4. ---. In Stahlgewittern (Storm of Steel). Berlin: E.S. Mittler & Sohn, 1922. D640 .J692 1922
ubtitle: Aus dem Tagebuch eines Stoßtruppführers von Ernst Jünger (From the diary of an assault team leader. By Ernst Jünger). Caption under photo: Nunquam retrorsum, semper prorsum! (Never retreat, always onwards!)
5. ---. In Stahlgewittern (Storm of Steel). Berlin: E.S. Mittler, 1924. D640 .J692 1924
6. ---. Das Wäldchen 125: Ein Chronik aus den Grabenkämpfen 1918 (Copse 125: A Chronicle from the Trench Fighting of 1918). Berlin: E.S. Mittler, 1929. D640 .J696 1929
7. ---. Das Wäldchen 125: Ein Chronik aus den Grabenkämpfen 1918 (Copse 125: A Chronicle from the Trench Fighting of 1918). Berlin: E.S. Mittler, 1926. D640 .J696 1926
8. ---. Afrikanische Spiele (African Games). Hamburg: Deutsche Hausbücherei, 1936. PT2619.U43 A75 1936
9. ---. Feuer und Blut (Fire and Blood). Hamburg : Hanseatische Verlagsanstalt, 1929. D640 .J6918 1929
10. --- (ed.). Das Antlitz des Weltkrieges: Fronterlebnisse deutscher Soldaten (The Face of the World War: Front Experiences of German Soldiers). Berlin : Neufeld & Henius, 1930. D522 .J8 1930x
From Ernst Jünger‘s essay „Krieg und Lichtbild“ (“War and Photography“):
One simply cannot expect more from photography than it can deliver. Its detailed impressions of the surface of events are like the impressions left behind in stone of the existence of certain strange creatures. Certainly these offer visual data – but to surmise how the life of a large animal in all its mysterious movements unfolded: that requires imagination. To sense the spirit of great deeds and great suffering behind the images of a lost world, behind its ruins, that is the task which every document demands of the attentive viewer; so it is with the photographs of zones of battles past. (trans. Anthony Nassar)
11. --- (ed.). Das Antlitz des Weltkrieges: Fronterlebnisse deutscher Soldaten (The Face of the World War: Front Experiences of German Soldiers). Berlin: Neufeld & Henius, 1930. D522 .J8 1930x c2
A: Brennendes Dorf (Burning village)
B: Granteneinschlag in ein französisches Dorf (A shell hitting a French village)
12. Junior, Richard (ed.). Hier spricht der Feind: Fronterlebnisse unserer Gegner; mit einer Einleitung von Ernst Jünger (The Voice of the Enemy: Front Experiences of our Adversaries; with an Introduction by Ernst Jünger). Berlin: Neufeld & Henius, 1931. D509. J8 1931
13. Junior, Richard (ed.). Hier spricht der Feind: Fronterlebnisse unserer Gegner; mit einer Einleitung von Ernst Jünger (The Voice of the Enemy: Front Experiences of our Adversaries; with an Introduction by Ernst Jünger). Berlin: Neufeld & Henius, 1931. Personal copy, Ross Etherton.
A. Auf einer Anmarschstraße. Englische Tanks im Vorgehen. Deutsche
Gefangene beim Zurückbringen von Verwundeten. (On an approach road. English tanks advancing. Captured Germans bringing back the wounded.)
B. Verschiedenartige Geschosswirkungen auf französische Stahlhelme (The effects of various projectiles upon French steel helmets):
1. Schrapnell (Schapnel). 2. Infanterie Steckschuss (An infantry bullet lodged in a
helmut.) 3. MG Streifschuss. (Grazed by a machine gun). 4. Granatsplitter (a piece of schrapnel). 5. Infanteriegewehrdurchschuss (Penetrated by a shot from an infantry rifle). 6. Durch Luftbruch und Mine verunstaltet (Misshapen by a mine and aerial crash).
14 Schultz, Edmund (ed). Ein Bilderwerk zur Geschichte der deutschen Nachkriegszeit. Das Gesicht der Demokratie; mit einer Einleitung von Friedrich Georg Jünger (A Pictorial Work of the History of the German Postwar Years; with an Introduction by Friedrich Georg Jünger). Leipzi:, Breitkopf & Härtel, 1931. DD238 .S3
Friedrich Georg Jünger, the brother of Ernst Jünger, was a poet and essayist.
15. Jünger, Ernst (ed.). Die Unvergessenen (The Unforgotten). Berlin: W. Andermann, 1928. D507 .J8 1928
16. ---. Der Kampf um das Reich (The Fight for the Reich). Essen: Wilhelm Kamp, 1930. DD248 .K36 1930
17. ---. Luftfahrt ist Not! (Flight is Imperative!). Berlin: W. Andermann, 1930. TL545 .L8 1930b
Page Title: “Die Entwicklung der Flugzeugmotoren” (The development of airplane engines).
Caption: “Kotta-Fraschini Zwölfzylinder in V-Form” (Kotta-Fraschini 12 cylinder in V form).
18. Heise, Carl Georg (ed.). Die Welt ist schön: einhundert photographische Aufnahmen von Albert Renger-Patzsch (The World is Beautiful: 100 Photographic Images by Albert Renger-Patzsch). München: K. Wolff, 1928. TR650 .R4
19. Renger-Patzsch, Albert. Lübeck. Achtzig Photographische Aufnahmen von Albert Renger-Patzsch (Lübeck: 80 Photographic Images by Albert Renger-Patzsch). Berlin: E. Wasmuth, 1928. DHT 2758
A. Dänisches Kriegsschiff im Lübecker Hafen (Danish warship in the port of
B. Kranreihe auf der Wallhalbinsel (A row of cranes on the Wall Peninsula).
20. Buchholtz,Ferdinand. Der gefährliche Augenblick : eine Sammlung von Bildern und Berichten; mit einer Einleitung von Ernst Jünger (The Dangerous Moment: a Collection of Pictures and Reports. with an introduction from Ernst Jünger). Berlin: Junker und Dünnhaupt, 1931. D416 .B8
A. Tank im Feuer (Tank on fire).
B. Aus der Grube. Bergleute, die fünf Tage lang im Schacht eingeschlossen waren, nach der Rettung aus dem eingestürzten Stollen (Coming out of the mine. Miners who were trapped in a shaft for five days, after being rescued from the collapsed tunnel).
21. Heise, Carl Georg (ed.). Die Welt ist schön: einhundert photographische Aufnahmen von Albert Renger-Patzsch (The World is Beautiful: 100 Photographic Images by Albert Renger-Patzsch). München: K. Wolff, 1928. DHT 2750
22. Renger-Patzsch, Albert. Die Halligen: das Gesicht der Landschaft (The Halligen: The Face of the Region). Berlin: Albertus Verlag, 1927. DHT 2744
23. ---. Hamburg : photographische Aufnahmen (Hamburg: Photographic Images). Hamburg: Gebrüder Enoch, 1930. DHT 2753
24. ---. Eisen und Stahl: 97 Fotos (Iron and Steel: 97 Photos). Berlin: H. Reckendorf GmbH, 1931. DHT 2751
Cast iron cylinder housing of a motorcycle engine upon a surface plate.
A device holds the cylinder tightly clamped; the places marked with white chalk will be marked by punchers and needles, according to which it will be drilled, planed and lathed. Zündapp.
25. Renger-Patzsch, Albert. Gestein: Photographien typischer Beispiele von Gesteinen aus Europäischen Ländern; mit einem Essay von Ernst Jünger (Rocks: Photographs of Typical Examples of Rocks from European countries; with an Essay from Ernst Jünger). Ingelheim: C.H. Boehringer, 1966. DHT 2752 OVERSIZE
From Ernst Jünger‘s essay “Steine“ (Stones“):
The septal sutures of ammonites and natalidae are preserved in white quartz; the master pattern (Urmodell) of a turbine is revealed.
Wherever mineral ores or quartz fills out lifeforms, creations arise whose organic harmony is not only preserved, but is also accentuated, intensified, through that of the minerals. From these forms, like those of coral or sea urchins, the regularity of early segmentation still speaks. If they are crystallized, their geometric sharpness is intensified; the eye intuits the numeric world's sublime laws of death and life.
Therein lies the intrinsic appeal of snails' shells and seashells; visible order radiates out from obscurity. It remains a miracle that a gray, unremarkable being can generate such beauty. And this beauty is only its mantle. Caption: AMMONITES IN JURASSIC LIMESTONE (Metamorphic rocks)
Dead stone, filled with the life of geological past. The limestone is composed of the shells of fossilized, extinct ammonites that lived 140 million years ago. A sedimentary rock from the Jurassic, not much older than that in picture 25. It shows a snippet of the development of life, important for the outlining of the history of the earth.
26. 13 scarab beetles from Japan, Seychelles, Croatia, Philippines, Sudan, Greece, Turkey, Tunisia, Portugal, and Malaysia from Ernst Jünger‘s collection. Given to Dr. Frank Krell by Ernst Jünger and graciously loaned by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
27. Lagarde, François. Ernst Jünger: Photo Album. Montpellier: Gris banal, 1983. PT2619 .U43 Z6577 1983
Captions (Clockwise from top left):
1. Ernst Jünger in Wilflingen with his translator Prof. Henri Plard from Brussels (1977). 2. One of Ernst Jünger’s beetle cases in Wilflingen (1977). 3. Another beetle case. 4. Ernst Jünger with a mantis religiosa (praying mantis).
28. Renger-Patzsch, Albert. Bäume: Photographien schöner und merkwürdiger Beispiele aus deutschen Landen; mit einem Essay von Ernst Jünger und dendrologischen Erläuterungen von Wolfgang Haber (Trees: Photographs of beautiful and remarkable examples from German countries; with an essay by Ernst Jünger and dendrological commentary by Wolfgang Haber). Ingelheim am Rhein: C.H. Boehringer Sohn, 1962. DHT 2745 OVERSIZE
From Ernst Jünger‘s essay ”Der Baum“ (“The Tree“):
The eye sees what breathes in the light, but what feeds on the saps of the earth is hidden to it. Yet both are powers of the same essence, which here attains height, there depth. What we glimpse in the heights and what is hidden from us in the depths has grown from a single point; they divide the day and the night between them as image and mirror image.
Image and mirror image seek to reveal a miracle in this development; they point to a Being that establishes these dimensions. When we walk through a forest, when we look at an old tree, a third element is always present that unites the image with the eye, the heights with the depths. (trans. Simon Friedrich)
Caption: LINDEN UPON A PASTURE NEAR GESEKE
EIGHT METER CIRCUMFERENCE
In our parts we know two types of lindens. The one is called the small-leaved linden and has small leaves and copious blossoms, while the exact opposite is the case with the large-leaved linden; as a result it blooms earlier than the small-leaved linden. The large-leaved linden, loving warmth and therefore not native to northern Germany, was chosen by man to be the tree at the center of villages. It accompanied humans and their lots across many generations and in the summer her fragrant branches shielded lighthearted dances as well as the harsh Vehmic courts dealing with life and death.
29. Jünger, Ernst. Subtile Jagden (Subtle Hunts). Signed to Dr. Frank Krell. Letters from Ernst Jünger to Dr. Frank Krell; postcard from Liselotte Jünger to Dr. Frank Krell. Graciously loaned by Dr. Frank Krell.
Letter: Dear Herr Krell,
I heard from Frau von Oertzen that you'd like to help her with the naming of the beetles. I'm pleased, since it will contribute to the memory of the great collector and traveler Eberhard von Oertzen.
I'm very busy at the present, but I'd like to visit the museum in April, all the more considering that Prof. Schawaller has promised me his help with the Tenebrionidae that I've been accumulating for some time.
I hope to see you as well. Do you determine all palaearctic scarab beetles or only some of them?
Enclosed are, with regards, two Cetoniidae that one of my correspondents, Msr. Fisch, captured on St. Pierre. The island is part of the Réunion overseas contemporary colony.
I hope the insects arrived safely. If you are able to ascertain their appellation, I'd
be grateful to you for sharing the information.
Best wishes, your
Postcard: PS. Ernst Jünger and, together with him, Herr Gustav Zimmerman collected (beetles) in Liberia, in Cape Mount and the surrounding area.
My husband is storing the Liberian harvest in three cases in his collection. When you proceed to realize your plans, you'll have to go to the trouble of coming here to look through the cases.
DO (The above: Liselotte Jünger
30. Renger-Patzsch, Albert. Die Welt der Pflanze: Photographien von Albert Renger-Patzsch aus dem Auriga-Verlag (The World of the Plant: Photographs from Albert Renger-Patzsch from the Auriga-Verlag). Ostfildern-Ruit: Cantz, 1998. DHT 8658
All translations by Ross Etherton unless otherwise noted.