Nomi Baumgartl discovered her passion for photography upon receiving her first camera and she developed her technique through self-education with the help of Andreas Feininger’s book “Die hohe Schule der Fotografie”. Through some serendipitous correspondence, Andreas Feininger became a mentor to Nomi. Featuring the work of both Nomi Baumgartl and Andreas Feininger, “Homage to Feininger” opens today at the Galerie Stephen Hoffman in Munich, Prannerstrasse 5. The show, which runs until November 13th, was set in cooperation with the “Galerie creative mind” and is supported by Leica Camera.
We had the opportunity to sit down with Nomi to discuss her friendship with Andreas Feininger and the unique exhibition.
Q: The exhibition “Homage to Feininger” combines selected works by Andreas Feininger and a newer portfolio of your photographic work. What is your connection to Andreas Feininger?
A: In the late 1970s, I produced a photo-feature on the artist Lena Vandrey in France for the German public TV network ZDF. The magazine “Professional Camera” published a report on my work titled “Nomi Baumgartl – Eine Biographin mit der Kamera”. In New York, Andreas Feininger read this article and wrote to the publisher asking a question on the content of my work. For me, it was a great experience to contact him since studying his book “Die hohe Schule der Fotografie”, which was the first step on my self-education of photography.
Q: You are Andreas Feininger’s pupil, so to say?
A: It was in the early 1970s. I originally intended to study medicine, but when I got my first camera it was passion from that moment on. With his manual, Andreas Feininger had a decisive influence on my self-educated career. I was very excited having my first contact with him.
Q: When did you first meet Andreas Feininger in person?
A: That was in 1983 in New York and it was a rather intense encounter. The key to my long-standing friendship with Andreas Feininger are my photographs, as well as our correspondence – we had been exchanging letters from the beginning of our friendship. Also, the insights I got when watching him at work while I was photographically documenting the phases of his work. Our relationship was not that of master and pupil; it was rather a matter of spiritual kinship based on a deeply-rooted mutual respect.
Q: Which subjects had the greatest influence on your friendship? On which levels, so to speak, did you meet?
A: Certainly the most important aspect was our common great love of nature – of the creation. Andreas Feininger’s view, his understanding of the universe, was essentially found in nature, a fact that has informed my portrait of him in “The Naturalist’s Eye”.
Q: How much did his pictures and method form you and your work?
A: I think we were linked by one parallelism especially with respect to the sense and awareness of our love of nature. My work as a photographer is also devoted to the respect for the creation and to the union of humanity and nature. Feininger’s creed that “we all are an integrated/integral part of nature, a part of the universe” is also my conviction.
Q: What does this exhibition that combines photographs by Andreas Feininger and by you mean to you personally?
A: This exhibition is a great gift to me! I am especially obliged to Claudia Fey, the gallery owner who enabled the joining of our photographs via gallery owner Stephen Hoffman. This exhibition is, as the historian of photography Hans-Michael Koetzle aptly put it, “not a mere double exhibition but rather a summit in photographs.” Naturally, I feel very honoured by this on celebration of my 60th birthday. The pictures that are shown in the exhibition form part of the roots of my life as a photographer. Andreas Feininger’s iconic picture The Photojournalist featuring Dennis Stock and his Leica is of deep personal importance to me. The picture was also reproduced in Die hohe Schule der Fotographie. So it stood at the beginning of my way as a photojournalist – and it inspired my yearning for my first Leica! And so, by this exhibition, a very nice circle is completed.
-Leica Internet Team