"Christer Strömholm 1918 - 2002 - On Verra Bien," on view through January 19, 2003. This is a retrospective of photographer Christer Strömholm’s lifework, an artistic achievement that spans more than six decades. The exhibition ON VERRA BIEN, which is the largest presentation to date of Christer Strömholm’s pictorial works, encompasses some 200 photographs that include portraits of artists, pictures of transsexuals in Paris, images from trips through Spain, the US, India, Japan and Kenya, as well as a selection of drawings and paintings from the 1940s and 50s.
Christer Strömholm, who was born in 1918 and died in January 2002, remains one of Sweden’s leading and most significant photographers. His artistic approach and career have had and still have an extensive and decisive influence on our view of photography as a separate and important art form. Even at the international level he has a prominent position in the history of photography. As recently as December 2001 he was described in a review in France’s most eminent newspaper, Le Monde, as "Le Grand Suedois." From an early age Christer Strömholm aimed at a future as an artist. In 1937 at the age of 19 he traveled to Dresden to pursue art studies. He soon went on to Paris but returned the next year to Stockholm and studied painting with Otte Sköld and Isaac Grünewald. After doing military service and fighting as a volunteer in the Finnish Winter War, he also fought with the Norwegian Resistance under the German occupation of Norway. In 1946 he settled in Paris and studied at the academy of fine arts, where he discovered the possibilities of the large-format camera, and realized that the photographic image allowed him to express himself in the way he wished and sought. He met some of the most prominent photographers of the age, such as Doisneau, Brassaï and Cartier-Bresson, who gave friendly critique and good advice to a youthful colleague seeking his way. Results of his first years in Paris include a series of portraits of artists and other now classic photographs. At that time Christer Strömholm also became a frequent traveler for the purposes of study and work, primarily within France, Spain and Italy.In 1956, Christer Strömholm started up a series of evening classes in Stockholm entitled "Photographic design". The courses soon expanded from about ten students to between five and six hundred, and were renamed "The working group for subjective photography". In 1962 the courses were reorganized into Fotoskolan (the Photographic School), which offered day classes and at which Strömholm was the rector and (in his words) also a student. From that time until 1974, Strömholm taught at the school more than 1,200 students, many of whom are now Scandinavia’s leading photographers. During school vacation and teaching breaks, Christer Strömholm returned Paris, where from the mid 1960s onwards he got to know and photograph the transsexuals in and around Place Blanche. Another theme for his work at that time was "Dödsbilder" (Pictures of death) from 1954-64, which was followed by "Verkligheten" (Reality) from 1964-74, "Privata bilder" (Private pictures) from 1974-82, "Tecken och spår" (Signs and traces) from 1982-93 and "Golgata" (Calvary) from 1993-96. To Christer Strömholm, the camera and enlarger were merely tools with which to create pictures - that is, they were a means, not an end. In other words, technology must always be subordinate to the image and the photographer’s intentions. Even concepts like picture composition, visual grammar and form/volume were to him means with which to achieve his goals. Three concepts were fundamental to Christer Strömholm in his work and photographs: responsibility, insight and presence, that is, responsibility for the truth of the picture, insight based on experience, and to be personally present with his emotions, experiences and imagination. A selection of Christer Strömholm’s photographs was exhibited in 1986 at Malmö Konsthall in the exhibition "Nine seconds of my life". The title referred to the total shutter time, that is, the time taken by the camera to produce the exhibited photographs.
Christer Strõmholm 1918-2002 On verra bien