Heinrich Zille (1858–1929) made his name with drawings that cast a socially critical yet humorous light on the “common” milieu around 1900. Years after his death, it emerged that the famous illustrator had also been an enthusiastic photographer.
Unlike the urban photographers of his time, Zille was not interested in the city where it was showing itself off. His pictures record everyday life in tenement courtyards and on entertainment strips. He also depicted the great urban escape into the fresh air. In summer 1901 Zille took his camera out to a lake called Kochsee. Here we see the artist himself in his striped bathing trunks. The other bathers on the jetty are accidental extras.
Zille’s snapshots of everyday life stand out as lively and spontaneous. Many of his motifs offer a foretaste of what was later called street photography, which first blossomed in the 1930s. Zille’s photographs were hidden for a long time. He never published them during his lifetime.
Untitled (Heinrich Zille surrounded by unknown male bathers)
8,3 x 10,9 cm
Endowment from the Berliner Bank AG, 1986