Friday, December 2, 2016

MASTER PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE FEMALE NUDE - GÜNTER RÖSSLER





Günter Rössler was one of the leading photographers of the female nude in the former East Germany.  He didn’t gain international recognition until after the reunification of Germany in 1990.  Günter Rössler died on December 31 in 2012 at age 86, but his creativity lives on in the excellence of his work.

Günter Rössler im Dezember 2005 in seinem Atelier in Markkleeberg bei Leipzig. 
Günter Rössler in december 2005 in his studio in Markleeberg by Leipzig


In the West he was often referred to as Helmut Newton of the DDR.  He himself didn’t like this title at all.  He preferred to show women more pensive and assertive at the same time in the sensitive aesthetics of black and white.  He explained on his 85th birthday, “With Newton, the poses dominate.  For me it is important to show the highest possible authenticity of the girls”.

Günter Rössler worked with a multitude of cameras, including Leica.

Rössler-Akt "Renate, 1969": In der DDR erschienen seine Aktfotos in der...
"Renate" 1969


He became famous with his photographs in fashion magazines like “Sybille” and “Magazin”, a journal which published a nude photograph on a monthly basis, more often than not photographed by Günter Rössler.  In addition Rössler became the head photographer for the DDR fashion magazine “Modische Maschen” (Fashionable Mesh) which was published four times per year with fashion photographs, including knitting instructions, which made it one of the most popular magazines of then DDR.

In 1984 even Playboy published a ten page pictorial of Rössler’s nude photographs titled "Mädchen der DDR" (Girls of the GDR) in their German edition.  The Playboy concept of the girl next door presented no problem for Rössler, it was simply the result of his daily work routine.  Since modeling was not very well paid under the East German socialism, Rössler’s subjects usually were not professional models.

 "Heidrun, 1977": Der Fotograf Günter Rössler starb am 31. Dezember 2012 mit 86...
"Heidrun" 1977


After the German reunification, Rössler’s popularity initially suffered considerably.  He was told that his work was no longer needed.  The East German magazines that he had worked for were all discontinued by 1995.  Even Playboy had little interest in his work after the reunification.

"Jutta, 1974": Anders als Helmut Newton, mit dem man ihn oft verglichen hat,... 
"Jutta" 1974


However, in recent years Rössler and his work gained renewed interest.  In 2005 he published a new book with the title "Mein Leben in vielen Akten" (My live in many nudes) which turned out to be an autobiography with a multitude of photographs.  In 2010 he followed with the publication of "Starke Frauen im Osten" (Strong women of the East) and "Akte 1953-2010" (Nudes 1953 – 2010).   Finally, in 2012 a documentary film by Fred R. Willitzkat called "Die Genialität des Augenblicks" (The genius of the moment) paid tribute to the photographer.

"Stefanie, 1997": Obwohl das Interesse nach der Wiedervereinigung stark abnahm,... 
"Stefanie" 1997


Heidrun (1977)
"Heidrun" 19777


Anyone interested in this genre of photography will do well to remember the genius of Günter Rössler and his work.

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8 comments:

  1. Is that a Leica that Rossler is holding in the picture?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, it is a medium format Rollei, most likely a Rolleiflex 6008

      Delete
    2. How can you tell? The camera is hardly visible.

      Delete
    3. The orange shutter release button is a dead give-away.

      Delete
    4. If Rossler shot with a Rolleiflex, why is this article on a Leica blog?

      Delete
    5. As I explained in the article, Rössler shot with a variety of cameras, including Leica.

      Delete
  2. Marlon Davidson wrote:
    Gorgeous images.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Marlon. That is a lot of praise coming from an artist like you.

      Delete