28 Oct — 07 Apr 2024Buy tickets
To mark the centenary of the birth of the versatile artist Lucebert (1924 – 1994), in 2024 the Fotomuseum Den Haag is hosting an intimate exhibition that highlights his photography. Lucebert is best known as a painter and poet. That he was also a fanatical photographer for a brief period is less well known. Unlike many photographers of his time who used photography to represent reality, Lucebert employed the medium in a completely unfettered and intuitive way. The result is a unique oeuvre, full of poetic and evocative images. The exhibition features a selection of around fifty vintage prints from the museum collection and the family archive of Lucebert.
Lucebert was part of a generation of Dutch artists in the early 1950s who rejected tradition in favour of new forms of artistic expression, both in literature and the visual arts. As a painter he was briefly associated with the experimental group Cobra and as a poet he was known as the ‘emperor’ of the pioneering literary group the Vijftigers (Movement of the Fifties).
In the same period, he bought a camera, mainly to document his children. He was soon captivated by the medium and devoted much of his energy to it. For Lucebert, photography was an intuitive activity. As a self-taught artist, he did not feel bound by photographic conventions. He was less concerned with representing reality than with capturing a certain intangible atmosphere. People are always central to his photographs, many of which feature his family and friends, often shot in his studio in his hometown of Bergen.
But he soon broadened his photographic vision to include street scenes, and took his camera with him on trips abroad. In some cases, this proved risky: while in Berlin in the winter of 1955-56, at the invitation of the famous playwright Bertolt Brecht, he was arrested by the Security Service on suspicion of espionage, and his camera also landed him in a cell in Bulgaria.
Lucebert’s period of fanatical photography was short-lived. He found photography strenuous and exhausting and ultimately saw himself more as a painter and poet. But his unconventional approach to the medium produced a body of work that stands alone, full of poetic and evocative images.