Photo tips for your holiday: How to make your summer photos a success

We show you how to take the right photos: To make your photos of the beautiful season a success, we have selected various shooting situations that place high demands on the camera and operation, especially in summer. We provide tips on the respective camera settings, motif design and matching accessories. With the manual camera mode of many smartphones, you can also apply these tips to many mobile phone cameras.

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1. beach, bright light & reflections control

The bright sand on the beach, glistening sunlight and light reflections often lead to overexposure and pale colours when shooting at the popular water edge.

For cameras with attachment options, so-called polarisation or polarisation filters help here. These filters are attached and rotated to the appropriate position to ensure that light rays that vibrate “incorrectly” are neutralized, depending on the subject situation and lighting conditions. This causes a suppression of reflections, for example on a water surface as well as on warm, strong, natural colors of sky, clouds and beach.

Lateral incidence of light can be prevented with sun visors, which are available as attachments or are included with the camera when purchased. Many cameras, especially the small compact ones, offer the automatic motif beach.

Camera settings

  • Automatic: Try the automatic motifs beach or snow
  • Manual output setting: AV mode, aperture 8, ISO automatic
  • Recommended accessories: polarization filter, sun visor, tripod if necessary

2. backlight photography

Backlight photography is the term used when the light comes from the direction in which the picture was taken. This can be a natural or artificial light source. Summer shots are often taken in the late afternoon with the sun low (see example image).

In backlit photography, the subject usually has a silhouette-like appearance. Like our lady in the example picture, the motif stands out from the background like a shadow and rich in contrast. The colours are deliberately pushed into the background. Since a correct exposure is often difficult to determine, we recommend in most cases to make an exposure series.

Most digital cameras, now also compact cameras, offer such an automatic function in their function menu. If this option is not available, you should try different settings manually. In the case of digital recordings, the unsuitable images can be deleted again.

In any case, one should expose on the bright image areas in order to achieve the silhouette-like outline of the motive. Attachable lens hoods or a lateral incidence of light additionally reduce unwanted glare spots in the image. For inspiration and ideas visit

Camera setting

  • Automatic hardly possible, possibly sunlight or series of exposures – if possible
  • Manual output setting: max. ISO 100, aperture 4 to 8, shutter speed 1/400 sec.
  • Recommended accessories: tripod, lens hood (against hood reflexes)

3. photos at sunrise and sunset

When shooting sunrises and sunsets, time plays an important role, because the lighting conditions change very quickly early in the morning and in the evening. Therefore, you should firstly be on site in good time and secondly assume that the setting requirements (lighting conditions) change quite quickly due to time.

The camera should be positioned as low as possible. An upstream gradient filter is very helpful, which compensates for the extreme horizontal differences in light intensity (sun level very much light, foreground little light or shade), which cannot be managed with the aperture setting of the camera (you can only select one aperture setting).

The gradient filter in front of the lens allows a balanced exposure in the entire image spectrum due to its applied gradient coloration. These filters can be adjusted to the respective horizontal light conditions by pushing them up and down. Before the “hot” shots, one should practice the handling and take test photos, because as already mentioned at the beginning, the time factor plays an important role in sun shots.

If you can’t use a gradient filter, you should try to find the optimal settings with exposure series. Another tip for the subject: Give the sky about 2/3 of the height when creating the picture and move the sun horizontally a little to the left or right.

4. freeze fast-paced sports scenes

When shooting sports, the rapid movement of the subject is usually a great challenge. In addition one would like to clarify the action with splashing water, rising sand or flying blades of grass additionally. Of course, most digital cameras have an automatic mode on board. But this can only offer an average setting.

It is better to make these settings manually. The freezing of the respective fast-paced scene usually takes place with very short shutter speeds (e.g. 1/1,000 sec.). However, the shorter the shutter speed, the larger the aperture (2.8 – 5.6) and a higher ISO number (200-800) should be. Because of the short exposure time, as much light as necessary must fall on the photo sensor.

The lower the aperture value, the more open the aperture is and the more light can be admitted. The greater the ISO number, the more sensitive the sensor is to incident light. Before using a photo, you should test the possible settings, for example on passing cars, in order to find the optimum settings for your camera.

When doing sports, you should not be stingy with shots and provide a lot of storage space. Therefore, camera modes that shoot several pictures in a row are very well suited.

5. to get a real picture of a party society

With a small compact camera it is very difficult to take appealing photos of parties in dark surroundings. The key point here is the lack of light and the dynamic nature of the subject. The built-in flash usually does not reach far, too close attached, the pictures are quickly flashed.

It is better to mount cameras with an additional flash. These offer a longer range. Of course it is possible to use additional lamps, but this is difficult with the mostly big hustle and bustle. In low rooms you can try to flash indirectly by aiming the flash at the ceiling.

In any case, you should set a low aperture value and a high ISO value for manual adjustment. Then you have to experiment with the shutter speeds depending on the subject. In order to prevent the background of the subject from sinking into the dull black, one should pay attention to some illumination behind the subject. At day parties, as explained above, you can try the settings of sports photographers.

6. taking pictures in and under water

Special cameras make it possible, without additional protective measures for the camera, to shoot underwater photos just below the waterline or to take splash-proof pictures just above the water. Some models can also be packed into special underwater housings to penetrate deeper.

How to create really good panoramic pictures

It’s a disappointment: You climbed the 3000m with a lot of effort, but the photos of the fantastic panorama look simply boring. The solution lies in panorama photography: from a simple surface panorama to 360-degree views and spherical panoramas, there are all kinds of exciting perspectives.

The natural enemy of the panorama photographer are small shifts in perspective: you have to confront them with a steady hand and the right equipment.

With the 360-degree camera over the Golden Gate Bridge

It is one of the most photographed buildings in the world, we have the slightly different impression of the Golden Gate Bridge. Our 360-degree camera seems to fly over the famous bridge!

The principle: “Basically, you take several pictures that you put together afterwards,” explains Clemens Conrad, who photographed panorama pictures professionally for several years. It is important that the individual photos overlap at the edges, preferably by about 30 percent.

“With a fisheye lens with a wide-angle of almost 180 degrees, you only need two to four shots,” Clemens explains. The smaller the angle, the more shots are needed to cover the entire environment.

Software and Apps

Some cameras offer panorama settings, and for smartphones you can download apps. “The camera is panned over the panorama motif like a camcorder,” explains Constanze Clauß from the German Photo Industry Association.

Guide lines or grids indicate which areas still need to be photographed. “Most apps also draw attention to the fact that the camera or smartphone is accidentally tilted up or down,” Dieter Brors explains in “c’t” magazine. The app then immediately calculates the final picture.

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Expansion of the smartphone camera: The bubblescope (around 33 euros) records 360-degree photos and videos in conjunction with the Bubblepix app.

Special software enables stitching, i.e. the assembly of the images on the PC. While the single photos of apps are automatically calculated to an overall picture, one can manually intervene here and correct possible errors.

“360-degree panoramas can also be saved as interactive panoramas that can be displayed on the PC with a special viewer such as QuickTime VR or Java Viewer,” says Brors. The viewer can then rotate the subject in all directions and zoom in on the image. VR glasses further enhance this tour effect.


“Effective pictures require a very clean approach,” emphasizes Constanze Clauß. A wobble, a small step, and the perspective is already shifted. “If you want to create high-quality panoramas, you can’t avoid a camera with a tripod and, if possible, a panorama head and suitable PC software,” says Dieter Brors.

The tripod is necessary to position the camera without wobbling, the panorama head makes it tiltable. Ambitious photographers also use a so-called nodal point adapter.

The pivotal point

Normally the pivot is the camera, explains photographer Conrad. To avoid distortion when the panorama is put together, the camera must rotate around the nodal point. This is usually not where the tripod is mounted, but further forward towards the lens. Nodal point adapters allow the camera to rotate around this axis.

Those who work with the smartphone should try to turn around the mobile phone instead of around their own axis. Because the problem of the apparent change of the position of an object when the observer moves his own position (parallax), but with more distant objects hardly notices, panoramas of landscapes with the mobile phone are usually no problem.

“The further away the subject is, the easier it becomes,” Conrad explains this basic rule. If you also want to show the ground on your panorama, you should choose a monochrome background without complicated structures. This makes it easier to retouch the tripod position later.


“In direct sunlight, the sun probably appears only as a white ball and dark areas almost black,” adds photographer Conrad. This problem is most serious in dark rooms with brightly lit windows. This is where exposure series can help.

Special cameras

A special feature are cameras with several lenses that can record a complete spherical panorama and even 360-degree videos. These include Ricoh’s Theta models (around 200 to 400 euros) and LG’s 360 Cam (around 250 euros), which all have a 180-degree lens on both the front and back of the camera.

Even more lenses sometimes have ball-shaped models such as the Panono (around 1500 euros) or the 360Fly (around 500 euros), which can be thrown into the air like a ball and take pictures from this perspective.

Vincent van Gogh – His Life

Vincent van Gogh was born on 30 March 1853 in Groot-Zundert in Holland. His father was a priest and van Gogh lived a religious life like him.

After van Gogh tried out various professions, including salesman, teacher and assistant preacher, he did not begin to paint seriously until 1880. After travelling for a few years, including in Brussels and The Hague, he set up his own studio in Neunen with his parents in 1884 to devote himself to painting. At this time he had several sad experiences that would affect his mind throughout his life. His relationship with Margot Bergemann, a woman from the neighbourhood, ended after she tried to take her own life. Shortly afterwards Vincent’s father dies unexpectedly.

In 1885 Vincent van Gogh went to Belgium to study art. Here he was strongly influenced by the French painters Cézanne, Signac, Seurat and Gaugin. After further studies in Paris he met Pablo Picasso and Paul Gauguin a few years later. Van Gogh now experimented with different painting styles. Visit to see some of his famous paintings. Many them can be found in exhibitions all over the world.

The creeping decay

In 1888 Van Gogh lived together with Paul Gauguin in Arles in southern France. His dream was to found a community of artists there. At this time he created the series of his famous sunflower pictures. In the same year, however, van Gogh’s mental condition deteriorated. His relationship to Gaugin was influenced by this and ended in a strong confrontation between the two.

On the Threshold of Eternity

Van Gogh gets hospitalized after cutting off one of his own ears. While in hospital, Gauguin travels back to Paris and their friendship is over. Vincent Van Gogh is more and more frequently in a nervous crisis. He withdrew to devote himself exclusively to his art. Most of his paintings were created in the last 10 years of his life.

Vincent Van Gogh died on 29 July 1890, at the age of 37, in Auvers-sur-Oise in northern France: Three days after he shoots himself in the chest with a revolver during a walk.

Otto Freundlich, enemy of the Nazis

Artist, Jew, Communist: Exhibition in Cologne: Otto Freundlich, Enemy Image of the Nazis. The Nazis had also declared war on modern art. The history of the painter and sculptor Otto Freundlich shows how successful they were at times. Not only he himself was destroyed, but also a large part of his art.


The NS sensors were granted a particularly perfidious triumph: Freundlich’s best-known work to this day is the sculpture of a head – for the simple reason that it was emblazoned on the cover of the exhibition guide to the Nazi show “Degenerate Art”.

After a long time there is now another attempt to snatch Freundlich from oblivion: The Museum Ludwig in Cologne presents his work in one of the most important exhibitions of this year (February 18 to May 14).

There are three good reasons why you should watch this show. First of all, there are simply beautiful pictures to be seen.

The radiance of these abstract works – a total of 80 exhibits – has a clear source of inspiration: as a young man Freundlich took part in restoration work in the cathedral of Chartres with its famous glass windows – nowhere is there a more beautiful blue than here. The rush of colour influenced his whole life. Freundlich created paintings, mosaics, tapestries, glass windows and sculptures.

You can enjoy the exhibition without knowing anything about Freundlich

The exhibition also opens up Freundlich’s world of ideas to visitors, and that is its second big plus. Freundlich (1878-1943) saw himself as a political artist.

But unlike Otto Dix, George Grosz, or Käthe Kollwitz, you don’t see it immediately because his art is abstract. He coined the term “Cosmic Communism” for it. Freundlich tried to combine his Chartres experience with his political convictions: Everything is fluid, everything is interconnected, there are no hierarchies.

The third reason for the visit is the biography of Otto Freundlich, a Jew, communist and modern artist who was the perfect enemy of the Nazis. In the 1930s they confiscated 14 of his works, among others for the travelling exhibition “Degenerate Art”. They depicted the 1.40 metre high monumental sculpture “Big Head” – based on the stone statues of Easter Island – on the front of the accompanying booklet. They also gave the sculpture the invented title “The New Man”.

  • During research for the exhibition, a young trainee at Museum Ludwig discovered that the Nazis eventually replaced the sculpture with a clumsy replica, perhaps because the original had broken down.
  • In any case, it disappeared.
  • The replica was very different from the original, perhaps the head was to be given a supposedly “African” appearance in order to correspond even more to the racist ideas of the Nazis.

France since 1924

Freundlich, who had lived in France since 1924, realized after the German invasion that not only himself but also his art was in great danger. On a few pages he left behind a list of key works sketched with a quick stroke, some of which, as he knew, no longer existed. It is a moving Holocaust document. Also to be seen in the exhibition: Colors and palettes of the artist, which were discovered decades later in his tiny hiding place in a Pyrenean village. Betrayed by a neighbor, he was deported to the Sobibor camp in 1943 and murdered; his exact date of death is unknown.

Art about outer space to increase interest in space travel

Pictures from distant worlds are often created in the minds of artists. Their works are an important contribution when it comes to understanding space. It is one of the topics at the Astronaut Congress in Bremen.

Lots of green, lots of glass and white walls: that’s what the neighbourhood of the future should look like – and it was hardly any different from a settlement of the present. If there hadn’t been a tiny detail: The houses were part of a round settlement in the middle of space. In the 1970s, the American space agency Nasa commissioned studies on how artists imagine a human space colony. The result differs greatly from what is considered technically possible and necessary today.


Even if new planets are discovered or asteroids come closer to Earth, there are still pictures. Most are illustrations and not exact representations. How exactly it looks on the exoplanet Trappist-1d, 39 light years away from Earth, nobody knows. The fact that there are still pictures is due to the collaboration of scientists and artists. The researchers pass on the few data they have so that graphic designers and illustrators can make a picture of it.

This rather free approach has a simple reason: “If we weren’t doing this, some people might not even be dealing with the actual subject,” says Robert Hurt, who makes exactly such pictures for Nasa. “Many scientific images have influenced the way we perceive space,” says Bernard Foing, Esa scientist, professor at the Free University of Amsterdam and a member of the Committee on the Cultural Use of Space at the International Astronautical Federation.

Space as part of pop culture

By this he means scientific illustrations, but also images of everyday life. Foing sees the 60s and 70s in particular as a wedding. “At that time, space was part of pop culture. For example, the first Star Wars film was released in the late 70s, the British science fiction series Doctor Who premiered in 1963, and six years later David Bowie released the album “Space Oddity”.

  • Films, series, but also music have influenced an entire generation. But now he misses this influence, Foing said on the sidelines of the International Astronautical Congress in Bremen.
  • “Space is now more present than ever in our lives. In popular culture, however, it is hardly to be found.
  • The Frenchman wants to change that: “The exploration of space is in a renaissance.
  • That’s why scientists and artists have to work more closely together.” They would have to understand each other in order to enlighten.

“Space is not just about technology and science. It’s about all of humanity,” says Foing. In order to convey this, Foing wants more art that is related to space and that is perceived by the public. His wish could soon come true: In mid-November, US artist Trevor Paglen wants to send his Orbital Reflector into space, a satellite that can do nothing but be there. With a rocket from SpaceX he is to be taken into space, where a 30-meter-long diamond-shaped balloon is to open. Its reflective surface should also cast sunlight on the dark side of the Earth.

The satellite is meant as a “purely artistic gesture” and “does not serve any military, commercial or scientific purposes”, according to a video on the project. “It is in many ways the opposite of any satellite ever placed in orbit.” With this action, Paglan wants to encourage us to “look into the night sky with new amazement, to examine our place in the universe and to rethink how we live together on this planet”.

According to the United Nations, more than 1800 satellites orbit the planet. They collect weather data, help navigate or spy on enemy targets. For critics, Paglen’s mirror balloon is therefore no more than space junk. Esa scientist Mark McCaughrean wrote on Twitter: “This project contributes nothing we don’t already have.” The online magazine Gizmodo demanded: “Hey artist, stop putting shiny shit into space.”

To ensure more interest in space travel

The old question of meaning and purpose in art – it apparently also applies in outer space. Foing has answered it for himself. “When we bring art into space, we show the public that you don’t have to be a scientist or an engineer to innovate in space.” That would generate more interest in space travel.

The Mexican space artist Nahum Romero Zamora even goes one step further. He sees art as a pioneer and thought leader in the exploration of space. Just as illustrators imagined space colonies in the 1970s, artists should now look to the future. “Science is on its way to Mars,” said Zamora at the IAC. “We artists need to think even further.

Art exhibitions in the gastronomy – free decoration or chance to become known?

Does it make sense for artists to exhibit in a restaurant, café or bar? Or should one rather try to show his works in art-specific spaces of art associations, offspaces and, of course, galleries?

A discussion with the singer Sabine Seide on this topic led me to summarize and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of artists and restaurateurs. “We make rooms available free of charge” – a well-known example of a musician who gets to the heart of the problem. Also visual artists often get the question whether they don’t want to exhibit for free in the rooms of a restaurant or café. Paintings, photographs, drawings but also sculptures are often shown.

The artworks fill the empty walls, the guests dine in the regularly changing ambience and have time to view the art and buy it if necessary. If one takes a closer look at the situation, it quickly becomes clear that in this constellation the restaurateur has an unbalanced advantage, while the artist is left behind.

The advantages and disadvantages for the artists:

Surely it is good for artists to draw the attention of a new audience to their own art. Especially highly frequented restaurants and cafés attract masses of potential buyers.

Nevertheless, there are only a few gastronomies in the greater Nuremberg area that have been organizing exhibitions with renowned artists for years and where art is actually bought in addition to food and drink.A well-known example is the Creperie Yechet Mad in Nuremberg, where artists and collectors also like to eat.

(c) Photo credit – gastronomy category at

The advantages and disadvantages for the gastronomy:

  • The restaurateur makes an exhibition possible for the artist and makes his premises available to him.
  • In return, he receives new artistic equipment free of charge for a certain period of time, so he has to invest less money in the equipment and decoration of his own restaurant and has a constantly changing art programme, which pleases the guests. In addition, he presents himself and his local art-interested and as a promoter of the artists, which is good for the image.
  • The vernissage brings new guests from the artist’s circle of friends and acquaintances and if the press reports about the exhibition, the restaurateur gets a very effective publicity.
  • The restaurateur also has the opportunity to charge a commission for the sale of works of art, such as a gallery owner.
  • It therefore makes economic sense for a restaurant to hold art exhibitions. There are no real financial risks.
  • It could, of course, be the case that one shows such bad taste and exhibits works of art that make guests’ eyes ache while eating? That would be bad.

The argument with the free rooms that can be “played on”:

As in the example with the musicians, the artists are offered the opportunity to use the catering facilities free of charge in order to become better known.

On the other hand, artists have the opportunity to exhibit in art associations, offspaces or galleries. Here they meet visitors interested in art and culture, who visit these places precisely because of art and to buy art.

There is a big psychological difference between buying art in a space created for it and making a spontaneous purchase while drinking coffee. The second happens with smaller sums and less often. Art associations, offspaces and galleries also do press work and invite the art public to the exhibition via their distributors.

Art institutions and spaces beat restaurants to lengths when it comes to making art known. The restaurateur should know that. What artists should consider when negotiating with a restaurant, café or bar:

  1. Before an exhibition is decided upon, the conditions must first be negotiated so that artists AND restaurateurs benefit and no imbalance arises.
  2. As an artist, you should be self-confident and not offer your art below value, for example free of charge. If the restaurateur wants works of art for his restaurant, he has to provide a service for them as well as for the rest of the equipment.

What are the possibilities?

Artists and restaurateurs can negotiate that a work of art from the exhibition is purchased by the restaurant itself. In return, the exhibition is free of charge for the restaurateur in the period to be defined.

The two parties negotiate a fee for the exhibition. The restaurateur therefore rents the artworks from the artist for the duration of the exhibition. As an artist, you should ask the restaurateur to actively promote the exhibition and inform his guests about the artist and the prices.

If the restaurateur wants a commission on the sale of a work of art, this must be weighed up on a case-by-case basis. This raises the price (or reduces the earnings) and makes a sale even more difficult. The total proceeds of the works of art should benefit the artist, because he is the producer of the works.

  • The argument that artists can use the rooms free of charge is a limp. As a rule, art can also be exhibited at art-specific locations, which is advantageous for the artist.
  • The observation that the artist becomes known and that many guests also buy art only applies to gastronomies that have been in business for some time and regularly hold high-quality exhibitions.
  • Artists must negotiate an exhibition and set a fee or the purchase of works by the restaurant or café before they are accepted.

Roses in art history

The rose in art – this is an inexhaustible subject! Here (first of all) only some introductory remarks.

The geometry of the rose served as a model for the pentagram and the window rosettes of old churches, stylized roses adorn some city coats of arms and visual artists from all over the world choose the rose as their motif. Pictures, sculptures, photographs, sculptures, objects and video installations symbolize the many facets of the “Queen of Flowers” since antiquity.

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The oldest secure representation of the rose is a fresco in the palace of Knossos in Crete. Since the rose became a symbolic Christian plant, it has been taken into account in the design of churches.

Be it as a carving on confessionals, as an expression of secrecy and silence, or as a rose window in Gothic cathedrals. 1474 Martin Schongauer’s famous painting Maria im Rosenhang is created.

Towards the end of the 16th century roses can be found in Dutch and Flemish paintings. The “rose painter” par excellence was Pierre-Joseph Redoute.

  • The rose as an artistic motif can be found on porcelain, fabrics, wallpaper and many everyday objects.
  • And the rose can also be found in urban art, see adjacent sculpture, photographed in Duderstadt.
  • The National Gallery of Art has also a lot of paintings.

Meissen porcelain photographed in the Meissen Museum. The Meissen Rose, the classic decoration on Meissen porcelain, was introduced around 1800 and was very popular especially in the Biedermeier period. And even today artists love roses and depict them on their works.

The history of things

How do objects get into the museum? Have they been bought, collected, inherited or even stolen? Provenance research has been dealing with these fundamental questions not only since the sensational picture discovery in Munich in 2013, but they also serve four Frankfurt museums as a connecting element of their cooperative project Purchased. Collected. Stolen. From the path of things to the museum.

Back in 2002, Hessischer Rundfunk, the State of Hesse and the Sparkassen-Kulturstiftung Hessen-Thüringen together with the Fritz Bauer Institute initiated a travelling exhibition entitled Legalized Robbery – The Treasury and the Plundering of Jews in Hesse 1933-1945. After 16 years of touring Hesse, the exhibition returns to Frankfurt and can now be seen in the Historisches Museum. It focuses on the inhuman living conditions of the robbed Jewish population and at the same time reveals the bureaucratic processes behind the organized and then legalized robbery.

Last Memories

In the Frankfurt cooperation project, the Historisches Museum, the Jewish Museum, the Museum Angewandte Kunst and the Weltkulturen Museum have joined forces to present five solo exhibitions on legalized robbery in the context of their house.

The first are the Jewish Museum (in the Museum Judengasse) and the Historical Museum, whose exhibitions were opened last week. The Museum of Applied Arts and the World Cultures Museum follow in June and August.

The Historical Museum presents the travelling exhibition Legalized Robbery

Robbed? Everyday Things and Their NS Past. The exhibits and the documents enclosed in the display cases tell the biographies of the objects and their former owners. The fate of the journalist Arthur Lauinger is used as an example to illustrate the systematic exploitation of the Jewish population during the Nazi regime. His forced emigrations were preceded by “plundering by the National Socialist constitutional state”, in which Lauinger not only lost “pieces of metal and jewellery “1 but also his remaining possessions. Thus the journalist writes after his departure from Germany in 1939: “I went with my wife naked like a sparrow on the ship that was to carry me to England. ”

Tilly Cahn, the wife of the Frankfurt lawyer Max Cahn, was also a victim of the legalized raids of the National Socialists. In her diary, the studied historian describes numerous everyday situations during the war; in 1943, for example, she reports on “organized robbery murders ” Tilly Cahn’s fate and that of many other victims are the focus of the presentations.

It was a long way to the systematic investigation of state plundering. It was not until 45 years after the end of the war that the concrete scientific debate began about possessions that might have been acquired illegally. A few years later the necessary legal prerequisites were created “to make part of the files still subject to tax secrecy accessible to scholars”. 4 Subsequently, in 1999 the State of Hesse made funds available for a research project, which was carried out by the Fritz Bauer Institute in cooperation with the Hessian Main State Archives. This research project is the starting point for the exhibitions that will follow almost 20 years later.

The Frankfurt presentations that have now been opened encourage visitors to reflect and sensitize them to the fact that such unlawfully acquired possessions could also be found in their own family heritage.

The four participating museums have examined their collections for corresponding objects and found them. According to Mirjam Wenzel, Director of the Jewish Museum, the initial aim of her house was to “show the rest that has remained”. A large part of the collection of the first German Jewish museum was “stolen, destroyed or scattered” by the National Socialists during the Second World War. For this reason, only a few objects from the original collection remain in the Frankfurt Museum today.

Among other things, the Museum Angewandte Kunst exhibits objects of robbery that were declared lost in the Second World War according to the inventory sheets, but were found in the museum’s collection in 2017. Whether this is an intended cover-up must remain open. The theme of the cover-up is also explored by the World Cultures Museum, which examines the acquisition of objects in the colonial context of the 19th century.

The benefits of being an artist…?!

As early as 1985, the guerrilla girls drew attention to the injustices in the art world with a list of ironic to sarcastic statements (“Must women be naked in order to enter the museum”).

The exhibition Träum*weiter in the premises of the Kunstpädagogisches Institut of the Goethe University is now devoted to a current reflection on this topic and three central questions:

What does a “just” society look like?
What are natural (art) states?
What is the value of work (how is it measured)?

In order to approach the topic to some extent, curator Linda Rustemeier and her team Larissa Dewald, Tatjana Dinus and Elena Witzeck have invited eight artists to present their positions and “infect” the visitors* with visions.

Important impulses of feminist art can be traced through posters, mind maps and reading material. The historical and philosophical background of the exhibition is revealed by the sociologist Dr. Frigga Haug (four-in-one perspective) and the art historian Linda Nochlin, whose essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? ” laid the foundation for feminist art historiography in 1971.

The artists of the current show now show their view of the role of women in society and question their justice. They develop visions and utopias of an alternative and feminist system, addressing political, social, evolutionary, and personal issues.

A New View on Evelyn De Morgan

Can art oppose war? Can wars and conflicts be fought with art? Can a work of art influence the thinking of its viewers and create peace? If the English artist Evelyn De Morgan (1855-1919) had been asked, she would certainly have answered these questions in the affirmative. Two wars were reflected in her work: the Second Boer War (1899-1902), the last great war of the British Empire, and the First World War (1914-1918), the original catastrophe of the 20th century. Even though the artist was neither mother nor wife of a soldier, she was still deeply moved by the political events of her time and used them in her works.

About fifteen paintings refer directly to those wars.1 However, this number can only be considered an approximate value, since the artist always remained true to her allegorical-symbolistic pictorial language. In 1916, she organized an exhibition at her studio in Fulham, the so-called Red Cross Exhibition.2 None of the thirteen works on display there were for sale, although the entrance fees were donated to the English and Italian Red Cross. These “war allegories ” are usually treated as a separate and self-contained group of works. However, there is reason to suspect that other works referred indirectly to the theme of war, as will be shown below.

Insight into De Morgan’s war-specific pictorial language

In general, a strict dichotomy of good and evil, light and darkness, life and death, as well as war and peace can be observed in these works. Evelyn De Morgan and her husband William were practicing spiritualists and believed in life after death and in the possibility to communicate with the souls of deceased people. The couple published the results of numerous seances and automatic writing anonymously in a book, The Result of an Experiment. The soul of a soldier killed in the Boer War mingled with the numerous voices that contacted De Morgans. His report reveals the pacifist attitude of the artist couple.

The spiritualistic doctrine is also reflected in De Morgan’s works and the often cryptic visual language. Thus the paintings are populated by personified souls who gradually dare to ascend from the dark earthly world to the light-flooded beyond.
This can be seen in S.O.S. . A female figure dressed in white stands on a rock in the middle of a troubled sea that threatens to devour her at any moment. She is surrounded by monsters, winged dragons and snakes. But she doesn’t seem to fear them. She stretches her arms up towards a rainbow-coloured shimmering light source and is certain of her salvation. Since 1908, “S.O.S.” has been the official distress signal. The meaning “Save our Souls” was attributed to the code later, but the soul’s distress call appears paradigmatic in De Morgan’s spiritualistic context.

The artist instrumentalizes her painting into a visual “distress call”. It is aimed at the viewer and aims to draw attention to the real threat posed by the war, which threatens to attack humanity in the form of winged monsters. De Morgan’s outlook is fatalistic. Salvation seems to exist only in the afterlife. One painting that illustrates the mechanism of De Morgan’s war paintings and can therefore be included in this context is The Love Potion.

At first glance it seems to have nothing in common with the “war allegories”. A red-haired woman in a golden yellow robe, traditionally interpreted as a malicious witch,6 has taken a seat in front of an open window and pours a red liquid into a silver cup. Prominently above the chalice and the associated act of pouring, a couple of lovers can be seen in an intimate embrace.

This is the key element

De Morgan used the iconographic formula of the Knight and the White Lady preferably in her early war allegories referring to the Boer War. The Love Potion was created just one year after the end of this war. Examples include Victoria Dolorosa (the painting fell victim to a fire) and Our Lady of Peace. In the latter, the dichotomy between war (the kneeling soldier) and peace (a figure dressed in white reminiscent of the Virgin Mary) is particularly evident. The knight, the epitome of combat readiness, has laid down his weapons and has fallen to his knees in front of the allegory of peace to serve her and no longer the war. He reminds us of Saint George, who represents the British nation. However, this remains the only concrete indication of a specific British perspective.

Rather, De Morgan’s allegories are to be understood as universal messages7 on armed conflicts of all kinds that largely dispense with religious and nation-specific details. Moreover, neither war nor peace are exclusively shown. It is always a matter of bringing the two poles into a harmonious equilibrium. Exactly this moment of the unification is given in The Love Potion. The lovers are placed exactly in the axis of the potion. It seems as if he emerges from their union. So is there some kind of “antidote” brewed here for wars and conflicts of any kind? The term “love potion” would thus take on a completely new meaning. Neither does the redhead want to divide the lovers, as was so often assumed, nor does she want to ensure the continuation of her love. Rather, the two figures are to be understood as “substances” that flow into the healing juice. The fact that The Love Potion has pacifist tendencies may be shown by one of the books below the window, with legible inscriptions.

The interest in Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, the doctor, astrologer and alchemist from the 16th century, experienced a real blossoming in the 19th century, especially in the spiritualist circles in which Evelyn De Morgan moved.8 An innovation of Paracelsus is spagyric, a medical form of alchemy which no longer aimed at the production of gold but of tinctures for healing various ailments. The search for Panacea, a universal panacea, became the philosopher’s stone of the Paracelsan alchemists. Paracelsus was also known as a social reformer and, following Kurt Goldammer and Walter Pagel, was considered a pacifist physician and pioneer of modern pacifism.9 As a physician, he showed his interest in the holistic well-being of his patients. This meant that both an inner and an outer balance had to be striven for. Disturbing factors as well as deadly sources of conflict of any kind, including wars, had to be eliminated. Considering the iconographic formula of the knight with the white woman and the Paracelsan background, it becomes more and more probable that The Love Potion is also based on pacifist ideas.

Once again, reference is made to a voice from The Result of an Experiment that makes clear De Morgan’s own claim to art. The importance of art, and this is essential for De Morgan’s work, goes far beyond aesthetic added value. Art can stimulate, move, change, create truth, harmony and peace. Thus their “war allegories” become their individual response to hatred and war. The fact that her strategy convinced the visitors of the Red Cross Exhibition is shown by the excerpt of a letter the artist received from Felix Moscheles, herself an author and artist. The Love Potion shows the mechanism behind this pictorial strategy, so that the earlier interpretation of the female figure as an accident is not a matter of the individual.