In the exhibition Efraim Habermann - Photography and Watercolor, artnow Gallery presents a comprehensive exhibition of the photographs and watercolors of Berlin-based artist Efraim Habermann. Featuring city views of Berlin and Venice, images of Israel, architectural photography, still lifes, and works from the series Frauen im Bild, works from all of the photographer's major subjects are on view, including both some of his best-known motifs, such as the reflection of the Matthäikirche at the Nationalgalerie (1976), and previously largely unknown works from the artist's private archive. The show of works is completed by a selection of watercolors that Habermann has produced in the Constructivist style since 1980, and which are likely to be unknown even to some Habermann connoisseurs to date.
Efraim Habermann, now 89, was born in Berlin in June 1933 and spent the first six years of his childhood there. After his parents were forced to abandon their shoe store in Berlin Mitte following the Nazi seizure of power, the Jewish family managed to flee to Palestine in 1939. Habermann trained there as a technical draftsman, experienced the founding of the state of Israel, and shortly thereafter completed his military service as a technical draftsman in the Israeli Air Force.
In 1957, he returned to Berlin due to a health condition of his father. What was initially only intended as a temporary stay turned out to be a life decision - Habermann "got stuck in Berlin," as he himself puts it today. He found a job as a draftsman at the Senate Department for Building and Housing, but the purchase of his first camera in 1960 was to have a much more significant impact on his future life. From then on, he captured city views of post-war Berlin and very quickly developed an independent view and a distinctive visual language, characterized by unusual perspectives and a high-contrast staging of light and shadow, which is accentuated in a special way by a deliberately permitted graininess of his black-and-white prints. His motifs are the architecture of Berlin as well as still lifes and portraits, the traces of war on the façade of the New Synagogue, lonely cemeteries and half-demolished billboards. Each motif is carefully chosen, if not constructed, the perspective precisely determined. abermann does not shy away from capturing the rough and dreary sides of the city, and although Berlin is the city from which he once had to flee with his parents, his photographs betray the loving, embracing gaze with which he looks at his subjects.
In 1968, Habermann's work first became known to a wide audience with the publication of a photograph of the Neue Nationalgalerie in the Tagesspiegel. Since then he has seen himself as a professional photographer, with numerous publications in various newspapers and later exhibitions in Berlin, Tel Aviv and Chicago, including one at the National Gallery in Berlin in 1983.
As initially in the city of Berlin, he later finds his motifs in Venice and Israel, captures numerous still lifes, and with Woman in the Picture develops a completely independent series of works consisting of portraits of women in front of famous paintings such as Breakfast in the Open Air by Edouard Manet, with which this series of works began. Since the 1980s in particular, Habermann has also devoted himself to watercolor painting. His constructivist motifs, almost universally in postcard format, reflect his understanding of successful pictorial composition. They form an independent body of work, but also help to further trace the photographer Habermann's gaze.
The exhibition at artnow Gallery shows the entire spectrum of Habermann's artistic work. It opens with the vernissage on February 16, 2023 at 19:00. The artist will be present and will lead through the exhibition himself in an artist talk. Admission is free of charge.
Opening hours: Wed - Sat 12 - 6 pm or by individual appointment