In the fall of 1928 the Weimar photographer Sasha Stone published his photobook Berlin in Bildern (Berlin in Pictures). The opening image of the smokestacks of the Klingenberg power station was a clear statement in favor of the modern city. As a photographer of the New Vision and a collaborator on the modernist architecture journal Das neue Berlin (The New Berlin), Stone took the celebration of the electropolis in stride. The belief reigned that the technician paved the way for the future. Stone himself was a former engineer who had worked during the 1910s in the brave new world of the United States. Yet the photobook's suite did not explore a dynamic modern city pulsating with the invisible new energy. Stone, on the contrary, depicted a static city in an atmosphere of undisturbed peace and quietness. In Berlin in Bildern a counterdiscourse was developed against the dominating visual image of modern Berlin promoted in the daily press, in films, and in advertising during the Weimar Republic. This was done to display the German capital as a “human” city in which the urban dweller could feel at home. Although the late 1920s are mostly considered a period of medium optimism, Stone's imagining of Berlin as a rooted city and an organic whole in which nature and culture were harmoniously unified reflected the increasing criticism of photography's role in society in the last years of the Weimar Republic.
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An Paenhuysen; Berlin in Pictures: Weimar City and the Loss of Landscape. New German Critique 1 February 2010; 37 (1 (109)): 1–25. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0094033X-2009-015
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