“My only training was the manual for my first camera,” admitted Robert Lebeck, who was born in Berlin in 1929. But the exceptionally talented artist did not need anything more to advance from being an enthusiastic layman to a sought-after photojournalist. Thanks to his unique gift for sensing the right moment, he became one of the most significant contemporary photographers.

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In 1960, Lebeck photographed a young Congolese man stealing the Belgian King’s sword during Congo’s independence celebrations. This picture made it around the world, bringing Lebeck international renown.

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He spent the majority of his career years as a photographer for Stern. Lebeck travelled around the world, where he met the rich and famous as well as the poorest of the poor, capturing everything with his camera.

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So close and immediate, making the viewers feel as if they were a part of these very special moments themselves. At the end of the 1990s, his career as a journalist came to an end. He worked in art photography in Berlin right up until his death in 2014.

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“Those who are not curious learn nothing.” These words of wisdom from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe very accurately describe Robert Lebeck’s life motto. Through Lebeck’s series Neugierig auf die Welt (English: “Curious about the world”), we can marvel at the famous photographer’s discoveries. This collection of pictures expresses Lebeck’s particular talent for making history a personal experience. The master of capturing moments was also always recording them with the utmost awareness of their political and social contexts.

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Whether he was photographing celebrities or simple fishermen, city blocks in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district or boats on the Grand Canal in China – it made no difference to Lebeck. His virtuosity was visible in every slide he shot. A world renowned photographer from Berlin, his unique perspective on the world and history remains vibrant in his work.

 

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A great photographer like Robert Lebeck could even publish his contact sheets without needing to fear being “exposed”. The genius behind the camera is recognisable in every photo. The contact sheets also give us a sense of how Lebeck worked. We experience the way Romy Schneider loosened up shot by shot or how Herbert von Karajan completely forgets about the camera.

 

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The moments Lebeck captured feel almost intimate. Intense moments that remain unforgotten in his work. Lebeck’s gentle way of revealing people without ever simply posing them is what makes his work unique. At the same time, it doesn’t matter whether he staged and directed the subjects or was “merely” a fly on the wall – his expressive portraits always feel extremely natural.

 

Unverschämtes Glück

 

Once labelled a “charming thief of moments,” by STERN magazine, Robert Lebeck was one of the most significant photojournalists of our time. “I’ve had the most unbelievable luck”, the master modestly explained. And he liked to share this luck by way of his pictures. Lebeck lets us take part in moments steeped in history, the experiences of German life, the beauty of distant lands, and extraordinary encounters with prominent figures and unknown personalities.

 

Preußisch Blau

 

With a testimony of “I am a journalist”, Robert Lebeck defended himself against “allegations” of being an artist. After taking leave from his work as a photo-correspondent near the end of the 1990s, Lebeck discovered the possibilities presented by digital photography as well as the previously-avoided field of Art. Preußisch Blau(English: Prussian Blue) is an homage to his home town, Berlin.

 

The poetic images depict the capital city during the blue hour: an unreal time that Robert Lebeck captured with his legendary knack for sensing the right moment. Between day and night, between past and present, the familiar buildings make a very special statement.

 

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Unverschämtes Glück

Once labelled a “charming thief of moments,” by STERN magazine, Robert Lebeck was one of the most significant photojournalists of our time. “I’ve had the most unbelievable luck”, the master modestly explained. And he liked to share this luck by way of his pictures. Lebeck lets us take part in moments steeped in history, the experiences of German life, the beauty of distant lands, and extraordinary encounters with prominent figures and unknown personalities.

 

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Preußisch Blau

With a testimony of “I am a journalist”, Robert Lebeck defended himself against “allegations” of being an artist. After taking leave from his work as a photo-correspondent near the end of the 1990s, Lebeck discovered the possibilities presented by digital photography as well as the previously-avoided field of Art. Preußisch Blau(English: Prussian Blue) is an homage to his home town, Berlin.

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The poetic images depict the capital city during the blue hour: an unreal time that Robert Lebeck captured with his legendary knack for sensing the right moment. Between day and night, between past and present, the familiar buildings make a very special statement.

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