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Rudolf Koppitz

Rudolf Koppitz, 1884 - 1936
Czech Republi

Born to a poor family in Schreiberseifen (a village close to the town of Freudenthal, today Bruntal in the Czech Republic), Rudolf Koppitz began his career as a photographer in small commercial studios. In 1912, he took a decisive step and left his professional life to go back to school at the Graphische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt (Institute for Teaching and Research in Graphic Arts) in Vienna. Here he met a circle of artists and pictorial photographers and created his masterpiece, Bewegungsstudie, in the highly decorative and symbolist tradition of the Viennese Jugendstil. The extraordinarily strong yet deliberately harmonious manner of composition that he acquired at this time stayed with him--despite his aptitude for thematic transformation--until the very end of his life. Whether he was photographing aircraft (Koppitz was a reconnaissance pilot in World War I), or the reflective surface of water, or dancers, or peasants in traditional costume, his work is marked by a pronounced awareness of form, line, and the surface play of light and shadow. Koppitz's extraordinary mastery of pictorial processes--pigment, carbon, gum, and bromoil transfer printing--gained the respect of his colleagues throughout the world and garnered mention in the Encyclopedia Britannica of 1929.

Koppitz's nude self-portraits fascinated his contemporaries as much as they do viewers today. The photographs were taken out of doors--high in the mountains of the Alps or at the seashore--with the assistance of his wife, Anna. Often symbolic, the images also reflect the enthusiasm for nature that Koppitz nurtured throughout his life. This love of nature also influenced his late work, his portrayal of peasant life in the Tyrol that culminated in the vast 1936 exhibition of 500 photographs called "Land und Leute" (Country and People).

1925, Rudolf Koppitz

This richly illustrated publication--with texts by Jo-Ann Conklin, Monika Faber, and Peter Weiermair--gives an overview of the life and work of the great Austrian photographer, discussing four main topics: the early pictorialist landscapes, the movement studies, the nude self-portraits, and the large monographic exhibitions which were devoted to Rudolf Koppitz between 1930 and 1936 in the United States and Austria. The book is published in conjunction with a retrospective exhibition of Rudolf Koppitz's work that traveled to the Historichen Museum der Stadt Wien, the Frankfurter Kunstverein and the University of Iowa Museum of Art.

1927, Rudolf Koppitz



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