Rare color photographs of Germany’s post-war recovery
Josef H. Darchinger. Wirtschaftswunder
Edition of 1,000 + 200 APs
It was no more than eight years after the surrender of the Nazi government when Josef Heinrich Darchinger set out on his photographic journey through the West of a divided Germany. The bombs of World War II had reduced the country’s major cities to deserts of rubble. Yet his pictures show scarcely any signs of the downfall of a civilization. Not that the photographer was manipulating the evidence: he simply recorded what he saw. The country’s economic boom was so incredible that the whole world spoke of an “economic miracle.”
Dated between 1952–1967, Darchinger’s pictures, in color and black-and-white, show a country in a fever of reconstruction. Exceptional historic and cultural documents, they reveal a specific German moment, caught between technological modernism and cultural restoration, between increasing affluence and continued penury, between bomb sites and new building, between German Gemütlichkeit and the new threat of the Cold War. Above all, however, they reveal, the ordinary people swept up in this particular period.
Limited Collector’s Edition of 1,000 signed copies, each with signed pigment print Reichstag, Berlin, 1958
Josef Heinrich Darchinger (1925-2013) started working as a freelance photojournalist in 1952. Darchinger’s photographs began to regularly appear in reputable German print media starting in the mid-1960s. In his years as a photographer for Der Spiegel and Die Zeit, Darchinger had a formative influence on the magazines’ national news coverage of Bonn. He also presented his work at exhibitions and in collections of photographic portraits—for instance of Helmut Schmidt, Willy Brandt, Richard von Weizsäcker, or Heinrich Böll. Darchinger received numerous awards, among which was the prestigious Erich Salomon Award from the German Photographic Association.
Klaus Honnef is honorary professor of photography theory at the Kassel Art Academy. He was one of the organizers of documenta 5 and documenta 6 in Kassel, and has been the curator of more than 500 exhibitions in Germany and abroad. He has written numerous books, including TASCHEN’s Contemporary Art, Andy Warhol, and Pop Art.
In 1977, Frank Darchingerbegan his career as a photojournalist, while also assisting his father, Josef Heinrich Darchinger, with the classifying and updating of his legendarily vast and efficient photographic archive. It was through his endeavors that his father’s work has become accessible to the general public. Today Frank Darchinger works as a freelance photographer in Bonn.