“The year of the student protests took place without me.” In his autobiography, the German photojournalist and collector Robert Lebeck (1929–2014) described how he experienced the year 1968: “When the barricades were burning in Paris, I was working in Florida on a series about two murdered co-eds; when students began protesting in front of the Springer Building, I was photographing the christening of Hildegard Knef’s baby; and when Russian troops marched into Prague, I was accompanying the pope’s visit to Bogotá.”
A closer examination of the numerous exhibited contact sheets, prints and reportages made by Robert Lebeck during this epoch-making year on behalf of “stern,” one of Germany’s highest-circulation magazines at that time, reveal the extent to which his incisive photographs, despite his own assessment, truly reflect the social changes that were happening at that time.
Upheaval, protest, perseverance and failure: In “Robert Lebeck. 1968”, the leitmotifs of that year that are not always visible in the mythicizing retrospective view are made tangible in exemplary photographic series taken in places like New York, Bogotá and Wolfsburg. Whether dealing with “Divorced Women,” Rudi Dutschke in Prague, Robert Kennedy’s funeral or Joseph Beuys at the documenta, concentrated contemporary history encounters bold photo reportages and photographic art in Robert Lebeck’s works.
“Robert Lebeck. 1968” is a cooperative project with the “Institut für Zeitgeschichte und Stadtpräsentation der Stadt Wolfsburg.”
Edited by Ralf Beil and Alexander Kraus, the exhibition catalogue published by Steidl Verlag, Göttingen, features essays by Ralf Beil, Fabian Köster, Alexander Kraus, Aleksandar Nedelkovski, Stefanie Pilzweger-Steiner, Annette Vowinckel and Ulr Erdmann Ziegler as well an extensive selection of photographs, contact sheets and reportages from the year 1968.