RENGER-PATZSCH, Albert. Die Welt ist Schön. Munich: Kurt Wolff Verlag, (1928).

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Die Welt ist Schön. Einhundert Photographische Aufnahmen von ... Herausgegeben und Eingeleitet von Carl Georg Heise.
Munich: Kurt Wolff Verlag, (1928).

4to (286 × 215 mm), pp.24, 100 black-and-white plates. Plain endpapers. Top edge dyed blue, now faded. Blue cloth-covered flexible boards, spine and front lettered in silver; Previous owner's signature on front free endpaper erased, last two leaves starting. Tiny area of fading to head of spine. Black-and-white photo-illustrated dust-jacket, white, printed in yellow and blue; neat internal strengthening to head and foot of spine, flap-folds, and a couple of nicks. Small mark to rear panel, light wear and fading to two-thirds of the spine. Lacking the rare band and cardboard slipcase. A near-fine copy in an excellent dust-jacket.

First edition. Albert Renger-Patzsch was one of the most important promoters of modern photography in Weimar Germany. Die Welt ist Schön (The World is Beautiful) is his most well-known book, and the one that has come to define his career. It contains 100 closeup photographs of natural and man-made objects which are sequenced in progression from plants, animals, people, and the natural landscape, to turbines, girders, and other elements of industry before ending with a pair of hands clasped in prayer. The book was hugely popular at the time but received some criticism, particularly over the title which has contributed to a possible misreading of the work. In A Short History of Photography, Walter Benjamin wrote: 'Therein is unmasked a photography which is able to relate a tin of canned food to the universe, yet cannot grasp a single one of the human connections in which that tin exists.' Renger-Patzsch himself maintains that he would have preferred to have used the title Die Dinge (Things), which is more in keeping with his straight documentary approach. He maintained that his aesthetic arose from an interest in the precise nature of scientific photography and an interest in the composition of visual structures of the outside world, rather than from a desire to create a harmonic universal design. In a 1930 letter to Franz Roh he expressed his concern that Die Welt ist Schön was being interpreted philosophically, holding it up instead as his declared belief in optimism. To the end of his life Renger-Patzsch rejected any attempts to push photography toward total abstraction. He maintained his belief that photography was not an art but a means of documenting and recording, and that any attempt to compete with the graphic arts would cause photography to lose it own inherent characteristics of nuance and detail.

Sinibaldi, A. and Couturier, J-L., Regards sur un siècle de photographie à travers Le Livre (26); Fernandéz, H., Fotografia Pública: Photography in Print 1919-1939 pp.203-205; Roth A., The Book of 101 Books: Seminal Photographic Books of the Twentieth Century pp.50-1; Parr, M. and Badger, G., The Photobook: A History vol.I p.97; Roth, A., The Open Book: A History of the Photographic Book from 1878 to the Present pp.68-9; Auer, M. and M., 802 photo books from the M + M Auer collection p.134.


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