F. C. Gundlach: The Photographic Works
May 31, 2012
Author: Sofia Caycedo
While ‘Gundlach’ might not ring a bell as easily as ‘Newton’ or ‘Penn’, Franz Christian Gundlach can be seen as one of Europe’s most important fashion photographers of the post-war era. His recognisable style reflects on the occurring changes in European fashion and society during the four decades of his career. His fashion images embody a period of emerging postmodernism, and give insight into the spirit of the second half of the last century.
The book ‘The Photographic Works’ is an incredible ode to Gundlach’s highly rich photographic oeuvre. It celebrates his most famous fashion images, but also illustrates how his talent led him in many other photographic directions. His travel and street photographs prove he possessed a keen eye for detail and graphics, curiously observing his surroundings and capturing them in a narrative manner.
As a regular photographer for German silver-screen events, Gundlach earned part of his living by emphasizing the brilliance of the rich & famous. Hence, he had the ability to put people in the limelight without dramatically exaggerating their beauty or glamour. The book features a selection of his portraits of German stars, such as of Romy Schneider and Ingrid Andree. These portraits are taken in a remarkably natural manner, providing a much more down-to-earth view on the often over-glamorised stars.
His sensitivity towards his surroundings combined with his refined feel for aesthetics, made him a master at creating the perfect fashion photograph; from the models pose, to the use of colour, surrounding scenery and composition. Paying great attention to the structures & patterns of textiles, Gundlach used these “autonomous graphic signals” to create an image filled with visual harmony.
A registered photojournalist, Gundlach always photographed on assignment. His extensive amount of work for German lifestyle magazines Brigitte and Film und Frau is clearly represented in The Photographic Works. Timelines of magazine spreads and covers provide an interesting peek into the ever-changing elements of popular culture, and illustrate Gundlach’s hand in it.
All in all, the Photographic Works sheds light on a man, who – besides simply being a fashion photographer – proved to be a remarkable visual investigator, and a key contributor to post-war European popular culture. With his carefully thought out photographic compositions, Gundlach successfully defied what philosopher Theodor W. Adorno once labeled as the “stale contradiction between the purposeless and the purposeful” in the visual arts.
Buy ‘The Photographic Works’ here.