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Press Release


Book Available

February 8 through March 24, 2001
Opening Reception, Thursday, February 8, 7 - 9 p.m.

The Fahey/Klein Gallery is pleased to present the photographs of Leni Riefenstahl in her first exhibition in the United States. This exhibition, which debuted in Berlin in May 2000, features Riefenstahl images made during the Berlin Olympics in 1936.

“The pictures on display are forgotten stills from the 1936 Olympic Games. They show whatever her political coloring, Riefenstahl was a brilliant photographic pioneer…she photographed the athletes mainly from ground level, the sky and the cloudscape giving the sportsman (whom she preferred to sportswomen) their granite quality but also their latent energy.” (Roger Boyes, Berlin News, May 13th, 2000)

“The illustrations are not selected and compiled with a view to an Olympic documentary…I felt it right to choose images primarily for their beauty.” (Leni Riefenstahl, Olympia, St. Martin’s Press, 1994)

Riefenstahl’s work “is a unique document, recording the highlights of the Games. But Leni Riefenstahl’s work is much more than a mere record of athletic achievement. It has become a worldwide symbol of the close bond between art and sport…Riefenstahl is a born artist and a creative spirit par excellence. She has devoted her whole life to art in all its aspects, and with characteristic sensitivity she has tirelessly borne witness to the beauty of the work wherever it manifests itself, whether in the harmony of the human body in movement, in the unexplored, yet fascinating, life forms of the ocean depths or in the customs and life-styles of ancient African tribes.” (Monique Berlioux, Director of the International Olympic Committee, September 1983, Olympia, St. Martin’s Press, 1994)

“Born in 1902, she began as a celebrated dancer in Berlin during the early twenties, became an actress, then finally directed and produced her own films, several of which are among the most influential and most controversial in the history of film. Since the fifties she has traveled frequently to Africa and has lived for extended periods in the Sudan with the primitive Nuba tribes. Though long since a legend, she again attracted worldwide attention with her photographs of the Nuba. Then, at 71, she learned to dive and yet again turned her experiences into art with photographs of the undersea world. Today, at the age of 98, she lives near Munich, continuing work on various film and exhibition projects and planning new trips and diving expeditions.”

“Only a few women have conquered the male world of directing, and Leni Riefenstahl has influenced the aesthetics of film and photography as few others have done; to this day, many great directors and photographers mention her work.” (Angelika Taschen, Leni Riefenstahl Five Lives, Taschen 2000)

“I lived in the Third Reich with all its cruel crimes…we left a terrible legacy. Germans have found it difficult to forgive Riefenstahl. The reason for this is not entirely clear since she is not the first director to serve a dictator. Roberto Rossellini and Luchino Visconti served Mussolini; Sergei Eisenstein worked for Stalin – yet none was pushed into the void as firmly as Riefenstahl…today, half a century later, this complex emotional web has just about unraveled. Young Germans admire Riefenstahl for her eye, not for her political brain. The photographic exhibition is the latest event in her gradual rehabilitation.” (Roger Boyes, Berlin News, May 13th, 2000)

Leni Riefenstahl was and is an innovator as a photographer and film director. Her shot of a swimmer half in, half out of the water looks conventional by today’s standards but has often been called a stunning achievement as it was shot sixty-five years ago. Some of her other breakthroughs included new uses of camera lenses, filters, film stock, tracks for moving shots, balloon mounted cameras for full stadium shots, underwater cameras and a catapult camera to shoot the sprints.