70 Years of the Volkswagen Factory 1953
Peter Keetman, one of the pioneering photographers of the immediate post-war period, shot photos at the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg during Easter 1953, creating images that are now icons of “subjective photography.” Seventy years later, the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg is presenting Peter Keetman’s series Volkswagen Factory 1953. The images are far more than conventional industrial photographs or mere documentation ofp roduction processes. The Wolfsburg series includes both long shots, in which the vastness of the factory halls dominates, and close-ups with a high degree of abstraction. The photographs of stacks of Beetle fenders from the production line are now among the most prominent motifs of “subjective photography.” Keetman’s use of natural light brings out the beauty of the repertoire of forms. For the founding member of the fotoform group, it was a unique and extraordinary opportunity to photograph freely in one of the most distinctive production facilities of those years. He describes the situation as follows: “At the time, I was friends with a commercial artist who told me one day that he was going to VW to see if he could get a job for a VW ad. I asked him if I could go with him, hoping to be able to take some pictures of the production of the Beetle. The people in charge at the VW factory gave me every support—I was allowed to look around the factory at my own discretion. I was also accompanied by a young man from the factory who was very helpful. I had only a Rolleiflex, a few rolls of film, and a tripod, but no lighting, no flash, and so on. I could only take the pictures by natural daylight, but I was so happy and grateful that the factory had been so generous to me.”
With the kind support of Volkswagen Financial Services AG and in cooperation with the Institut für Zeitgeschichte und Stadtpräsentation (IZS) Wolfsburg.