Leupolds Gartenlaube

Leupold's Allotment. Collector's photographs in memory of a German family magazine


The ideal is if you also want to be like that.

Quota Gartenlaube, 1911


"U. was immediately reminded of old photographs or of beautiful women in lost volumes of German family magazines, and while he thought himself into the face of this woman, he noticed a whole lot of little features in it that could not be real at all and yet constituted this face. There are, of course, all kinds of faces at all times; but one is always lifted up by the taste of the time and made into happiness and beauty, while all the other faces are then made to conform to it. 

and beauty, while all other faces then try to conform to it; and even the ugly succeed in doing this, with the help of hairstyle and fashion, and only those born to strange successes never succeed. 

faces never succeed, in which the royal and displaced ideal of beauty of an earlier time expresses itself without concession."

Robert Musil, The Man Without Qualities (Volume I,1930)



"Leupold´s Gartenlaube – A Collector's Photographs in Memory of a German Family Magazine", Berlin 1994


As the title indicates, the starting point was the weekly magazine "Deutsche Gartenlaube" (German Allotment), which gained popularity in Germany during the second half on the 19th century.    Through restaging and reimagining the photographs, I lampoon the ideological content of the much-read magazine and its notions of the bourgeois "lady" – couched in instructions for everyday behaviour.


Enno Kaufhold, Matthias Leupold - Fictional Images as Reality of a Higher Order




Do what do his pictures mean? And why stage it? During his photographic training at the film studios in Babelsberg, Matthias Leupold came into direct contact with the world of film disguise (and in the fundus in Potsdam-Babelsberg he does indeed borrow costumes and props time and again). But this explains, if anything, at best his method. The choice of actors plays a decisive role. For Matthias Leupold attaches importance to the coherence of the physiognomies of the acting persons with the historical motif to be realised (today's physiognomies simply look different from those of that time).


He finds suitable actors in his personal environment as well as in chance encounters on the street. He is no less selective in his choice of locations, costumes, masks etc.. Everything is measured by him against his imagined images. Nevertheless, he cannot and does not want to completely exclude coincidence, which is therefore part of the final result in nuances. If his themes were not so profane, one could see in his pictures a continuation of the so-called "living pictures", or the "tableaux vivants", as they were preferably called in the phase of their greatest dissemination, in the 19th century. At that time, representatives of the aristocracy and the upper middle classes staged themselves on festive occasions with corresponding productions in imitation of well-known masterpieces of painting, sculpture and graphic art. ...


Leupold's pictures place the accent more clearly on the ideological. ... Matthias Leupold decouples "Die Gartenlaube" and makes it synonymous with a state of mind that is in all of us. Consequently, these pictures are not as nice as they seem. In retrospect, it is easier to understand the ideological content of papers like "Die Gartenlaube³"Die Welt der Frau. With what was written and depicted there, female readers were incorporated into the fabric of bourgeois society. Pictorially - and photography plays an increasingly important role in this - they are taught how to dress if they want to look en vogue, how to look after their canary in a manner appropriate to the house and the bourgeoisie, how a woman cooks rationally (naturally for the benefit of her husband and his budget) and finally what they will face (namely imprisonment) if they break out of the rules of this bourgeois order. From each of these seemingly harmless and so unspectacular-looking little pictures grew instructions on how bourgeois women were to behave. This was ideology, pure bourgeois ideology.


Unmistakably, Matthias Leupold's pictures have something to do with simulation and in this respect his productions are in line with the trend described above; and there is no doubt that he is more interested in the media bridges between individual cognitive ability and global realities, i.e. more in the method than in the results. Unlike the majority of staging and constructing image masters with their fantasy images, however, he creates real photographic images of actually existing reality, both historical and current. For we are still kept on the course of conformity with images, primarily photographed and today even more so electronic ones. What the new systems generate collectively and digitally (adapted), Matthias Leupold manages individually with the camera (critically), as an art form. This may not be as marketably effective and saleable, but it is sincere and coherent.


Source: Photonews, 4/1994 

Die Gartenlaube, title of the hardback edition, 1911


Solo exhibitions

2003 | 2004

Die Vergangenheit hat erst begonnen. Szenische Photographien 1983-99 (Retrospective) Kunst und Medienzentrum Berlin-Adlershof; Kunstmuseum Moritzburg Halle/Saale; Städtische Galerie Iserlohn and Kunstverein Ahlen with Stiftung Künstlerdorf Schöppingen, Alte Feuerwache Fotogalerie Mannheim; Kunsthalle Erfurt



Die Welt der Frau-Die Frau als solche hat sich ja in der Photographie bereits bewährt Festspielgalerie, Berlin



Leupolds Gartenlaube Philine-Vogeler-Haus, Worpswede 


Leupolds Gartenlaube & Fahnenappell Photographic Resource Center at Boston University, Boston



Leupolds Gartenlaube. Liebhaberaufnahmen in Erinnerung an ein deutsches Familienblatt. Staatliche Galerie Moritzburg Halle


Group exhibitions



Das Ende der Utopien. (1. Ars Bartica-Triennale der Photokunst) Schloß Gottorf, Schleswig; Haus am Waldsee, Berlin; Japanisches Palais, Dresden; Museet for Fotokunst Brandts Klaedefabrik Odense; Kunsthalle/Taidehalli Helsinki; Maison du Danemark, Paris; Center of Contemporary Art, Warzcawa; Center of Contemporary Art, Tallinn; Galeria Miesska, Arsenal Poznan


Leupold, M., Immisch, T., Kaufhold, E. and Stremmel, K., 2003. Die Vergangenheit hat erst begonnen. Szenische Photographien. 1st ed. Köln: Schaden.

Public Collections

Bibliothèque nationale de France

Berlinische Galerie

Kunstmuseum Moritzburg Halle/Saale

Heinz Nixdorf Museumsforum, Paderborn

22 Photographs


1996 Exhibition The World of the Women, Festpielgallery in the

Bikini House, Berlin-Charlottenburg