Peter Keetman

70 Years of the Volkswagen Factory 1953

30. 3. — 2. 7. 2023


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.

Holger Broeker

Peter Keetman, Ende Karos­se­rie­mon­tage in Halle 3, Silber­ge­la­tine auf Baryt­pa­pier, 30,9 x 22,2 cm, Dauer­leih­gabe der Volks­wagen Financial Services AG, Braun­schweig © Peter Keetman Archiv / Stiftung F.C. Gundlach