Leni Riefenstahl

  • Maske, color dye transfer Three Dancers
  • Der Diskuswerfer Der Turmspringer
  • Der Einsprung
  • aluminium, 57 X 42 cm
  • color dye transfer, 180 x 128 cm
  • 1936, gelatin silver print / hand-made-paper board, 50 x 40 cm
  • 1936, gelatin silver print / hand-made-paper board, 28 x 22,5 cm
  • 1936, gelatin silver print / hand-made-paper board, 50 x 40 cm

Leni Riefenstahl was born in Berlin in 1902. She studied painting, but began her artistic career as a dancer. She was able to join the film industry through the movie “Berg des Schicksals” (Mountain of Destiny) by Arnold Frank. He also wrote the script for “Der heilige Berg” (The Holy Mountain), in which she had her first role. Riefenstahl took up film directing, her biggest success in this regard being the documentary “Triumph des Willens” (Triumph of Will) named after the Reichsparteitag in Nuremberg (Nuremberg Rally) in 1934, which received the highest honours and awards. The closing scene of this movie was revived in the first “Star Wars” movie. The qualities of the movie have always been praised, “Its effectiveness lies in the use of the most modern cinematic techniques to portray the principles of the \'new politics\'. Experimental filming, movement, rhythm, the central role of montage and simultaneous action are some of the elements singled out for praise.“ (1)

She travelled and filmed in Africa as well, and her photography of the Nuba tribe (Sudan) have become famous, alongside her underwater photography (Red Sea, in the1970’s). A cinematic and artistic legend, Leni Riefenstahl passed away at Lake Starnberg (Bavaria) in 2003.The photos taken in Africa have become modern classics, similar to the underwater images. The Nuba images are especially thought to have sympathetically captured the pride and beauty of the people, conveying the message through Riefenstahl’s convincingly composed photographic language.

In 1935 she was offered to produce a documentary film on the Games of the XI. Olympiade (Olympic Games), which took place in 1936 in Berlin, Germany. 1938 saw the premiere of her two films on the Olympic Games in the UFA-Palast am Zoo (UFA Palace Cinema at the Zoo). The film won the highest international accolades and, in 1956, was classified as one of the ten best movies in the USA.

Critics have said that much of her earlier work had fascist overtones. This is untrue, at least when it comes to assessing the aesthetics of her pictorial language. Comparisons with other films and photographs of the times show that she was absolutely in accordance with the neo-classicist heroic aesthetic of her era, but that she engaged it more sharply and formulated it more convincingly.

(1) See news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/3097018.stm




Gallery Exhibitions

Leni Riefenstahl - Leben und Werk, 02.07.2005 - 31.10.2005, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie 

Zeitschnitt, 14.01.2006 - 14.03.2006, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie

Museum Exhibitions

Le amazzoni della fotografia dalla collezione di Mario Trevisan, bis 14.07.2014, Museo Fortuny, Venedig

Leni Riefenstahl - Fotografie, Film, Dokumentation, 25.03.2012 - 24.06.2012, Historisches Museum Bielefeld