View from ?Sophienhütte? to the cathedral and Kalsmunt. Picture from around 1908. (Images: Max Spalke)
View from “Sophienhütte” to the cathedral and Kalsmunt. Picture from around 1908. (Images: Max Spalke)

Viseum Wetzlar

Casting Light

Max Spalke was a photographer in Wetzlar for sixty years. In the years between 1900 and 1938 he compiled photo albums for the board members of Buderus. The historic images from the best album were on display in the Viseum in Wetzlar.

When Max Spalke came to Wetzlar in 1896, Emperor Wilhelm II. was ruling the German Empire. On the photographer’s death in 1956, Theodor Heuss was President of the newly founded Federal Republic of Germany. For six decades, Spalke worked as a photographer in Wetzlar – he is still regarded as an important chronicler of his time today. He photographed people, buildings and machines, captured moments and recorded changes, documented progress and setbacks. His photographs show monuments of industrial culture that heralded the future in those days and stood for the “golden years” of the emperor’s reign.

The oldest of Spalke’s Wetzlar photos is a picture of the Buderus Mining Directorate building. It was taken in 1895, a year before the photographer took over the studio of Zieger & Turian in March 1896. Although Max Spalke did a lot of photography for Buderus, his work was by no means confined to industrial photography. He sought and found his subjects not only in Wetzlar, but also in Braunfels and in the surrounding villages. In his home with its glasshouse studio opposite the Goethe fountain, he received representatives from politics and Wetzlar’s industrial leaders. He photographed nearly every important event here until shortly after the end of the First World War.

For his images of Wetzlar cathedral, Max Spalke even won the “Medal of the Prussian State” (he had documented the state of the building in 400 interior and exterior photographs). These photos, some of them taken under hair-raising conditions, were to prove extremely useful: When rebuilding work started on Wetzlar cathedral in 1945, Spalke provided the image material he had taken at a time before the building was damaged.

The exhibition “Casting Light. Industrial Photography at Buderus in Wetzlar from 1913” in Wetzlar‘s Viseum commemorated this significant photographer. The exhibited photos were taken from an album which Max Spalke had compiled and is today owned by Bosch Thermotechnik. They are historic images of a past age, but most of all they are signs of a time that a year later – with the outbreak of the First World War – would never be the same again.


Max Spalke
Casting Light. Industrial Photography at Buderus in Wetzlar from 1913
12.07.–16.08.2015
Viseum Wetzlar

 

Additional Information:

www.viseum-wetzlar.de

 

 

The ?Sophienhütte? blast furnace works after its modernization. Picture from around 1913.
The “Sophienhütte” blast furnace works after its modernization. Picture from around 1913.
The cover of the displayed photo album by Max Spalke from 1913.
The cover of the displayed photo album by Max Spalke from 1913.