Steffen's Pics

Bridgeman Berlin's General Manager reveals some of his favorite images in the archive 

 
 
What is your role at Bridgeman?

I’m the General Manager of Bridgeman’s Berlin office and on this job you never get bored! There are lots of areas to cover: servicing existing clients and their orders, contacting potential clients, negotiating prices, keeping in touch with image suppliers, coordinating the day-to-day activities with the rest of the Berlin team, clearing copyrights and getting reproduction permissions, visiting clients, image supplier, fairs and trade shows...
 
 
 
What do you love most about the job? 

The huge variety of clients and their projects makes it such an interesting job. You get access behind the scenes in completely different industries and their work flows. Our clients range from artists, designers, scientists, film makers, book publishers, calendar publishers, product designers, advertising clients... you name it, we work with them. 
 
Best of all, most of them are very nice and interesting people and we’ve established close relationships over the years. All our clients have connected to us through the wondrous power of images and we are so lucky to discover new ones every day!

 

 

Steffen Wedepohl, General Manager of Bridgeman Berlin
Steffen Wedepohl, General Manager of Bridgeman Berlin

 

 
What misconceptions do clients most commonly have about the archive?
 
Clients that don’t know us well often think we are a UK-focused image library with mainly British or English content and subjects. Though our head office is in London, we now have suppliers from all around the world, making us an universal and global image source and more join us on a regular base.


Steffen’s favourite images in the archive are...

 

Oriental Women (Odalisques), 1912 (oil on board), August Macke (1887-1914)
Oriental Women (Odalisques), 1912 (oil on board), August Macke (1887-1914)

 

It’s not easy to choose only a handful of images to represent my favorites. Now that I’ve started, it feels like many others are waving at me - wanting desperately to be chosen as well!
 
Well, August Macke is an easy choice as he is definitely one of my favorite painters. He doesn’t care much about realism but uses its elements in a very beautiful and joyful way. This is not about depicting reality, what we see is rather a beautiful choreography, a dance of shapes and colours for us to enjoy!
 
This is an early and famous work by Adolph Menzel that shows some of the main techniques of Impressionism decades before the word ‘Impressionism’ was coined: the light, the unusual visual angle, the capture of the ordinary, yet striking, transient moment.
 
For me there is no need to interprate some hidden meaning in this painting (though art historians have suggested many), this is just about the beauty of the unfinished, the momentary pleasure of watching the light and almost feeling the breeze coming through the window, reminding us that the joy and beauty of our day-to-day life may just lie right in front of us.
 

 

Room with balcony, 1845 (oil on canvas), Adolph Friedrich Erdmann von Menzel (1815-1905)
Room with balcony, 1845 (oil on canvas), Adolph Friedrich Erdmann von Menzel (1815-1905)

 

 

Green, Blue, Green on Blue, 1968 (acrylic on paper mounted on canvas), Mark Rothko (1903-70)
Green, Blue, Green on Blue, 1968 (acrylic on paper mounted on canvas), Mark Rothko (1903-70)

 


3. Green, Blue, Green on Blue, 1968

I had never seen this painting before a client ordered it from us and I was immediately struck by it: the colors are quite unusual for Rothko!

I find Mark Rothko’s paintings to be the perfect antidote to the ‘horror vacui’-driven pop culture that tends to fill up every space with something colorful, just to always keep the viewer entertained. Rothko, who hated pop culture, was after something totally different: he wanted complete focus, reduction, stillness, the exact opposite of distraction. It’s an almost mythical search for the essence of color and light and the viewer is invited to join in, to almost merge with the painting.

This connection with the viewer is why I never miss a chance to visit the wonderful Rothko room with his Seagram paintings in London's Tate Modern!



4. Portrait of Anne Waltham, 1572 

This is a little-known masterpiece by the French-Scottish painter Francois Quesnel. It’s a curious mix of a very formal setting against an astonishingly lively face, that looks straight at us through five centuries.

The young lady herself seemed to have sensed this contrast: she has that slightly uncomfortable expression of a self-conscious model, an ambiguity between uncertainty, shyness and annoyance of being exposed while at the same time wanting to please. You still find this expression very often in all kinds of photographic portraits today, so maybe that’s why she looks so familiar to us.

 

Portrait of Anne Waltham, 1572 (oil on panel), Francois Quesnel (1543-1619)
Portrait of Anne Waltham, 1572 (oil on panel), Francois Quesnel (1543-1619)

 

 

Bukhara bureaucrat in front of a building, Russian Empire, between 1905-15 (photo), Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky (1863-1944)
Bukhara bureaucrat in front of a building, Russian Empire, between 1905-15 (photo), Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky (1863-1944)

 



5. Bukhara bureaucrat in front of a building

I love the over-the-top colours of this very early color photography. Many people are not aware of how early color photography was developed and that its flourished long before the First World War.

Sergev Produkin-Gorsky was one of the first pioneers, he travelled the whole Russian empire and took lots of photos, leaving us a stock of amazingly beautiful images, not only interesting for historical and ethnological reasons but also for their artistic value.

And on a different note: I also wished our German bureaucrats were dressed the same way, then dealing with bureaucracy would be much more fun!



6. Footage: Leisure activities for Berliners 1924-1928

When I used to work for the Bridgeman London office, I visited my old hometown Berlin quite regularly and was always surprised by how empty and deserted the city seemed to be compared with the buzzing London!

This is certainly changing now but we are still not where Berlin was during the golden age of the early 1920s. This short clip is a nice snapshot of life in summer in Berlin from almost a century ago and demonstrates nicely how crowded, buzzing and fun it once was!

 

Leisure activities for Berliners 1924-1928 / Bridgeman Footage
Leisure activities for Berliners 1924-1928 / Bridgeman Footage

 

 

Find out more

Steffen Wedepohl and the Bridgeman Berlin team will be attending Frankfurt Book Fair between 8-12th October 2014. Get in touch to arrange a meeting or visit their official website to register for an early-bird discounted ticket.


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