The Life And Work Of Photographer Otto Steinert

Anna Poeltl

Otto Steinert was a famous German photographer, who started a medical career but soon afterwards followed his true calling as an artist. The aftermath of World War II created a unique backdrop for artists, and it was in this world that Steinert delved into new realms. As a famous teacher of photography, his influential works remain an inspiration for young artists up until today. The Culture Trip took a deeper look into the life of this creative mind.

Kraftwerk Bexbach, Saarland

Born in 1915, the son of an agent started to take pictures already at the age of 14. Steinert studied to become a doctor, but soon after finishing his studies returned to his overwhelming passion: photography. This leap took place in the aftermath of World War II. Similar to the rest of society, Steinert was hurting. The world view had been collapsed and tormented with waves of catastrophe. Artists redirected the turmoil and tried to channel it through various mediums; Steinert choose photography. He choose to express devastation through the obfuscation of traditional vehicles. He experimented with esoteric techniques and sloped into the valley of avant-gardism.

From 1948 to 1951, Steinert was the official theater photographer in Saarbrücken. He started to teach at the Hochschule der Bildenden Künste Saar (HBKsaar) and became its principal in 1952. He founded an atelier for artistic photography called ‘Fotoform’ with artists such as Wolfgang Reisewitz, Ludwig Windstoßer, Peter Keetman, Toni Schneiders, and Siegfried Lauterwasser. This movement was paramount for photography in Germany, as they took on reviving the once thriving art after the war. Constructivism and Bauhaus tactics fueled their aesthetics as they explored crafting visual narratives.

Die Bäume vor meinem Fenster I
Kommutierende Formen

In his work, Steinert tried to flesh out the abstract of routine situations of daily life. Many could argue that most works of art are autobiographical in some way. No matter how taciturnly or imperceptibly, the artist always seems to slip in. This is no different for Steinert, as his photography had diary-like qualities to it. Since Steinert was an amateur in photography, an unconventional artistic approach can be found in his work. That’s why his photos were so powerful – they were free from the burden of onerous academic influence. With his experimental techniques, he tried to carve out the medium beyond straightforward expression. He was aching towards something more, and through his unabashed artistic investigation he propelled the field of photography to new bounds.

Spuren auf Schwarz

From 1959 to his death, he taught at Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen. Steinert’s artistic approach to photography is still today highly influential for many younger artists. His work enabled a shift in the photography paradigm that motivated others to take risks and transfer their internal world into the visual spectrum of photography. Until February 20, 2016, you can see Steinert’s work at Museum Folkwang in an exhibition called Otto Steinert – Absolute Creation.

By The Culture Trip Team

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article