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Cologne: Unembellished

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Open from 21 November 2015 to 24 April 2016, the exhibition 'Cologne Unembellished' offers insights into the photographic work of Wilhelm Scheiner (1852–1922). Scheiner is predominantly known for his idyl paintings of Cologne in the late 19th century. The artist's work as a photographer now represents a new discovery.

In the years from around 1880 to 1914, Wilhelm Scheiner explored the streets of Cologne with his plate-back camera, constantly searching for scenes he could turn into paintings. Yet instead of depicting Cologne's famous buildings such as the Dome or its Roman churches, the artist was interested in capturing the city's unique atmosphere.  


Everyday Working Life
Scheiner had a preference for street scenes in the narrow alleyways of the city's old town, located between the 'Mauerring' (city walls) and 'Zollhafen' (customs port). Here he recorded people's everyday and working lives, unstaged and unembellished. In contrast to his watercolour paintings – which show life in Cologne as almost provincial, in bright colours and most of all, without poverty – his photographs focus on the 'ordinary' Cologne: the cramped architecture of the old town, the close proximity of its inhabitants, and the children who spend their days bustling through the alleys to escape the confines of their cramped living spaces.

For further information visit Kölnisches Museum

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