On the occasion of their 30th anniversary, Delmes & Zander show one the most ruthless and uncompromising artists of German post-war history. The works of Albrecht Becker are not only impressive contemporary documents, but in the current era of ‘body shaming’ or ‘body positivity’ they are as fascinating and relevant as at the time of their creation. Comprehensive and affectionate, the Cologne gallery shows, among other works, Rosa von Praunheim’s film ‘Liebe und Leid’ about the self-proclaimed autoerotic and masochist.
»It is not the homosexual who is perverse, but the society in which he lives«
Rosa von Praunheim
When Paragraph 175 of the German Criminal Code was abolished in 1994 and homosexuality was no longer punishable in Germany after more than 100 years, Albrecht Becker already looked back on a career spanning several decades. His photographic self-portrait began in the middle of the darkest chapter in German history. Detained as a homosexual by the Nazis for three years in the fall of 1935, during World War II he pledged himself to serve on the Russian front, where he began to modify his body and discover his lust for pain. As an award-winning production designer of the post-war era, he provocatively pushed artistic self-staging to the extreme, staging his tattooed body and his sexuality uncompromisingly in hundreds of pictures over four decades.
As the protagonist, director and cinematographer of his works, he uses his own body as a canvas and places himself in carefully composed flm sets. The contrast between Becker’s appearance as an elegant gentleman and his accidental and intentional body transformations and erotic depictions creates a special charm. Accentuated by experimental post-production techniques, Becker’s work addresses the themes of time, sexuality and fetishism, often with a wink, his physical explorations and their portrayals represent a call for liberality and serenity.
Curated by Lucas Foletto Celinski, the exhibition Albrecht Becker – Libidinal Motion continues until February at Delmes & Zander, Lindenstraße 20, in Cologne. In March, Delmes & Zander will present Albrecht Becker in a solo exhibition at Independent Art Fair in New York City.
Photography: Courtesy Hervé Joseph Lebrun and Delmes & Zander, Cologne
Words: Phillip Schmidt