In Denmark, Richard Winther (1926–2007) was a well-known artist. He was a painter, a sculptor and a graphic artist. He made installations, wrote books and taught younger artists. Since his youth, he had also been interested in photography and taken many pictures.
Until the mid-1960s Winther’s photographs were fairly traditional. He documented his travels abroad and visits to the studios of artists he admired. Giacometti was one of them and he made, but did not publish, a photobook with pictures taken in his studio (a facsimile has been published posthumously). In 1966, he – along with other artists and photographers – was invited to take pictures in Thorvaldsen’s Museum, Copenhagen. They were asked to give an interpretation of Thorvaldsen’s works and the museum in which they were housed for an exhibition to be shown there later. This changed Winther’s view of photography. He spent months photographing the sculptures, mostly from various unorthodox angles and trying out various chemical processes in the dark-room. He was no longer interested in making “good” pictures. Instead, he was attempting to create new kinds of images.
From then on, Winther’s approach to photography was experimental. He tried out different types of cameras with special lenses and even started constructing cameras himself. He studied the early history of photography with great fascination for Daguerre and Nicéphore Niépce in particular. They became his ‘heroes’ – or at least important predecessors to whom he wanted to pay tribute. As the painting in the exhibition shows, he often did this in a very humoristic way.
The exhibition focuses on the experimental work and includes photographs from different series. Some are the results of the technical experiments with cameras and lenses. Female models were often the focus of his experiments with photographs taken of them in various poses and different lighting. He would also set up tableaux to try out compositions, sometimes in view of paintings he was working on. Thus, in many cases the photographs fed directly into his work in other media, such as painting or sculpture. He never became a ‘professional’ photographer, one indication of which is that he never printed editions of his works. Almost without exception each print is unique.
Anneli Fuchs, art historian and researcher, has curated the exhibition which is presented in collaboration with the artist’s heir Tobias Winther and Galleri Tom Christoffersen in Copenhagen.