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Press Release


September 12 through October 19, 2002
Opening Reception, Thursday, September 12, 7 - 9 p.m.

The Fahey/Klein Gallery is pleased to present the photographs of Leni Riefenstahl in her debut exhibition The Last of the Nuba. This exclusive North America engagement will coincide with the celebration of Leni Riefenstahl's 100th birthday. The selected Color Dye Transfer photographs in this exhibition are from her well-known publications, The Last of the Nuba (Wm. Collins Sons & Co. Ltd, 1976) and People of Kau (Paul List Verlag, 1976).

Riefenstahl states, "I read Hemingway's book, "The Green Hills of Africa" (1935) and that influenced me. And when I got there, this shimmer, this light that I found in Africa, the warmth and the colours that look so completely different in the heat from those of Europe, all that fascinated me greatly. It reminded me of the Impressionist painters - Manet, Monet, Cézanne." (Riefenstahl Interview by Kevin Brownlow, Africa [Taschen, 2002])

"Leni Riefenstahl, in her capacity as one of the most important film directors of our time, was the first white woman to obtain permission from the Sudanese Government to study the Nuba. Between 1962 and 1969 she lived intermittently among these mysterious tribes, in remote valleys of Central Sudan, studying them at close quarters, taking unique and fascinating photographs, which now constitute a lasting record of what was once their way of life... Since the ways of the Nuba and their former tribal structure are gradually yielding to the slow inroads made by civilization even in that remote part of Africa, Leni Riefenstahl's photographs are of permanent anthropological and ethnographic importance... Scientists and ethnologists have sadly neglected the Nuba. Since the Austrian anthropologists F. S. Nadel traveled through Nuba territory in the Thirties, and wrote a scientific paper about them, no other attempt had been made to study the life, rites and customs of the Nuba before Leni Riefenstahl…" The Last of the Nuba (introduction).

Photographs from The Last of the Nuba deals primarily with the Mesakin Nuba Tribe. Photographs from People of Kau, which anthropologists call the "South East Nuba"… "live little more than 100 miles from the gentle and peace-loving Mesakin; they speak a different language and observe different customs and conventions. A wild and passionate people, they are diametrically opposed to the Mesakin in character and temperament. Their knife-fights, dances of love and elaborately painted faces and bodies, which resemble 'living Picassos', are unequalled by any surviving primitive race on earth."

"Of the sixteen sweltering weeks she spent with the Nuba of Kau, Leni Riefenstahl says: 'It was a time of almost intolerable hardship and exertion…But for my deep-seated urge to pursue the strange and the beautiful, heedless of time, danger and discomfort, these pictures never would have been taken'." People of Kau (introduction)

"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…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…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)

"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)

Her documentary film, Olympia: Part I Fest der Volker, Part II Fest der Schönheit (1938) was accorded several distinctions, among them the Gold Medal of France in 1939, and the first prize at the Venice Film Festival as best film of 1939. Olympia is still acknowledged as one of the classic films of the world. Riefenstahl's publications include: Olympia, 1937 (Reissued, Saint Martin's Press, 1994); The Last of the Nuba, 1976 (Reissued, Harvill Press, 1995); People of Kau, 1976 (Reissued, Saint Martin's Press, 1997); Five Lives (Taschen, 2000); and her autobiography, Leni Riefenstahl: A Memoir, 1987 (Picador/Saint Martin's Press, 1995).

The Last of the Nuba exhibition contains (30) 20 X 24, Color Dye Transfer photographs and (6) 74 X 50, Fuji Crystal Archive Mural photographs. A catalogue of these photographs will accompany this exhibition.

Additionally, Africa, Leni Riefenstahl (Taschen, 2002) will be available to order during the exhibition. The Taschen publication is oversized at 13 1/4 X 19 7/16 inches and contains 580 pages. This book is available at $1,250. until October, 2002. The price after October 1st will be $1,750. Additional information is available on our website at

The Last of the Nuba follows last year's successful inaugural U.S. show of Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia - exhibited by the Fahey/Klein Gallery, February 2001.