“The year of the student protests took place without me.”In his autobiography, the German photojournalist and collector Robert Lebeck (1929 – 2014) described how he experienced the year 1968: “When the barricades were burning in Paris, I was working in Florida on a series about two murdered students; when students began protesting in front of the Springer Building, I was photographing the christening of Hildegard Knef’s baby; and when Russian troops marched into Prague, I was accompanying the pope’s visit to Bogotá.”
A closer examination of the contact sheets, prints and reportages made by Robert Lebeck during this epoch-making year on behalf of “Stern,” one of Germany’s highest-circulation magazines at that time, reveal the extent to which his incisive photographs, despite his own assessment, truly reflect the changes in society that were going on at that time. Upheaval, protest, perseverance and failure: In “Robert Lebeck. 1968”, the leitmotifs of that year that are not always visible in the mythicizing retrospective view are made tangible in exemplary photographic series taken in places like New York, Bogotá, Kassel, Belfast or Wolfsburg. Many of the exhibited photos – which is part of their special attractivity – have never been published and are completely unknown. Whether dealing with “Divorced Women,” Rudi Dutschke in Prague, Robert F. Kennedy’s funeral or Joseph Beuys at the documenta, concentrated contemporary history encounters bold photo reportages and photographic art in Robert Lebeck’s works.
The exhibition “Robert Lebeck. 1968” is a cooperative project with the Institute of Contemporary History and City Presentations Wolfsburg.
The exhibition catalogue, edited by Ralf Beil and Alexander Kraus, designed by Cordula Lebeck, is being published by Steidl Verlag, Göttingen. It features essays on the history of 1968, photojournalism and photography by Ralf Beil, Michael Glasmeier, Fabian Köster, Alexander Kraus, Aleksandar Nedelkovski, Stefanie Pilzweger-Steiner, Stephan Ruderer, Annette Vowinckel, Martina Winkler and Ulf Erdmann Ziegler in addition to an extensive selection of previously unpublished photographs and contact sheets as well as the most important photo reportages from the year 1968. Hardcover, 360 pages, 226 illustrations, 24 x 30 cm, German and English edition, 38 Euro in the museum shop.