Käthe Buchler (1876–1930) was a pioneering woman photographer whose exceptional photographs offer very personal insights into Germany during World War One, with a particular focus on the home front and the lives of women and children.
Born Katharina von Rhamm in Braunschweig, Germany, and from a wealthy and privileged background, she was taught painting as a girl; many of her photographs have a notably painterly quality. She went on to study photography at Berlin’s Lette Academy which, unusually for the time, admitted women.
Like many women of the upper middle class, family life with her husband and children was Käthe Buchler’s focus and became the central theme of her photography in the years before the First World War.
During the war itself, in the most public phase of her career, her leading role in local institutions, including the Red Cross, gave her largely unrestricted access to the city’s war effort and she produced unexpectedly intimate photographs of daily life in Braunschweig, in the city’s military hospitals, as well as in the revealing series ‘Women in Men’s Jobs’. As a result, she offers us a distinctive vision, raising the intriguing possibility of presenting the conflict from the perspective of women and children.
Surprisingly, Buchler’s work remained unknown outside its immediate locality, but it was exhibited in the United Kingdom for the first time between October 2017 and May 2018, allowing the process of placing it within its proper international context to begin.
This catalogue, marking the exhibition Beyond the Battlefields, contains a wide selection of Buchler’s work, including some of her exquisite Autochromes (using the world’s first commercially available colour photographic process).
The accompanying essays introduce the artist and address, amongst other things, the role of amateur photography in documenting war. In depicting the minutiae of daily life against the backdrop of war and its aftermath, Buchler’s remarkable photographs speak to us across the intervening century, disrupting national stereotypes and opening up fresh perspectives on the Great War.
Exhibition curated by Matthew ShaulForeword by Sarah LloydIntroduced by Barbara Hofmann-JohnsonWith essays by:Matthew Shaul, Nicola Gauld and Ian Grosvenor, Helen Boak and Pippa Oldfield
ISBN 978-1-912260-07-2, June 2018, paperback, 72pp
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