German photographer Walde Huth (1923-2011) spent her entire career exploring textiles and fabrics. Starting with commissions in the early 1950s, including those from the velvet factory Gottlieb Ott Sohn, she was able to enter the international world of fashion as a photographer, working with designers of the “New Look” such as Christian Dior and Jacques Fath.
For three years between 1953 and 1956, she traveled to Paris, Florence, and Rome to photograph the latest collections for German magazines. Her models were the stars of the era; instead of positioning them in luxurious settings, she placed them around the city, surrounded by passersby. “I had no need to refer to locations”, she later explained about her photographs of evening gowns that were not taken in the opera or in a ballroom. “I saw it in terms of lines, forms, design, in terms of the dress”. She also wanted to get away from the sweet kitsch of smiling models. Her photographs are carefully composed and depict self-confident women whose clothing becomes a form that corresponds to the architecture of the city. That also applies to Huth’s nylon lingerie and carpet advertisements that she did in the 1970s in collaboration with her husband, photographer Karl Hugo Schmölz, when they had established their own company schmölz + huth. Designed by Hans Schilling, their house and studio Am Südpark in the Marienburg section of Cologne still conveys their modernity to viewers today.
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It is clear that we know much too little about Walde Huth. This presentation offers visitors the chance to get to know her work. It is also an invitation to share memories and knowledge as well as to begin research on the continuities and gaps between her first years as a photographer for Agfa and her career during the postwar “economic miracle” in West Germany. On the occasion of the centenary of Walde Huth’s birth, the Museum Ludwig is presenting its holdings of her work, which have been extensively enlarged since 2017.