Around 300 works by the illustrious photographer Werner Mantz who was born in Germany are shown in Werner Mantz: The Perfect Eye. The guest curator is Frits Gierstberg, curator of the Nederlands Fotomuseum, in Rotterdam. The retrospective is accompanied by an extensive multilingual publication about Mantz.

About Werner Mantz

In 1921, the young photographer Werner Mantz opened his first studio for architectural photography, at Hohenstaufenring, in the centre of his hometown of Cologne. The twenties was the ideal period to do so, as Cologne was way ahead of its time in realising important, modern urban expansion plans. This led to the most highly esteemed works by Werner Mantz. As a photographer of Neues Bauen architecture, he received contracts from famous architects, like Riphahn, Klotz, Mendelsohn and Wirminghaus. His work was also published in numerous architectural journals.

From 1932, Mantz had a second photographic studio, in Maastricht. He decided to settle there for good in 1938, prompted by the rise of National Socialism in Germany. Over the course of the 1930’s, he also gained fame in the Netherlands as an architectural photographer. Not only did he work for important architects like Peutz, Swinkels and Wielders, but the Dutch State Mines (DSM) and the Department of Public Works for the Province of Limburg were also very keen to have their work photographed by Mantz.

From the opening of his studio at Vrijthof in the early spring of 1939, Werner Mantz switched to child portrait photography, more or less out of necessity. Generations of Maastricht residents were immortalised by him. These portraits display the same craftsmanship and power of persuasion as his earlier work.

At the beginning of the seventies, when Mantz’s studio in Maastricht had closed and he was leading a quiet life in Eijsden, in Limburg, his work underwent a remarkable revival. Following the exhibition Vom Dadamax bis zum Grüngürtel: Köln in den zwanziger Jahren (1975), in Cologne, presentations were held in various galleries and museums. The big breakthrough came when Documenta 6 (1977) in Kassel focused on photography for the first time and included work by Werner Mantz. Nowadays, his work is in the collections of many museums, galleries and private collectors all over the world.

In his work and (working) life, the person and photographer Werner Mantz gives recognition to the commonplace. The compilation of the exhibition in the Bonnefanten brings everything together in a retrospective. Three narratives are thus permanently interwoven: his life and autonomous work, his architectural photography and his portrait photography. And at the same time, various historical and art-historical periods in Cologne, Central Limburg and South Limburg are linked together.