Sizes 17 x 25 cm
Pages 80 | Dutch edition
Publisher FoMu | 2010
Expo: FoMu Fotomseum Antwerpen, 10.2010 – 01.2011
Between the two Worldwars in Belgium, Willy Kessels (Dendermonde, 1898 - Brussels, 1974) was undoubtedly the most important representative of a new, 'modernist' photography. This new trend, which came over from Germany and France in the mid-1920s marked a radical break with the rigidity of the post-pictorialism and traditional studio-photography.
Modernism attested to the belief in the possibility of a better society of faith in the possibility of a better society through the availability of new technologies.
Kessels' oeuvre is remarkable for its size and diversity, and may be called illustrative of the changing interpretation of professional photography after WWI.
Kessels was not a man of theory but of practice. His eyes were eager, his commercial flair exceptional. He built a wide network and recruited its clients both in political, industrial and cultural centers. Although self-taught, he ventured confidently to the most diverse genres. He realized portraits and nude studies, worked as a reportage photographer, makes industrial and advertising photography, experimented with photograms and photomontages ...
During WWII Kessels continued to work as a photographer. He was convicted after the war for passive collaboration, but released early again. He resumed in the 1950s his business and came in this period mainly out with a number of books about his native region, the Scheldt. Here Kessels seems to have abandoned modernism, but he continued to experiment in the seclusion of his studio with abstractions and unorthodox printing techniques.
Text: Pool Andries