F.C. Gundlach
1926 – 2021

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Foto: Sabine Lewandowski Foto: Sabine Lewandowski

We mourn the passing of Professor F.C. Gundlach, who died in Hamburg on 23 July 2021 at the age of 95. F.C. Gundlach dedicated his life entirely to photography as an outstanding photographer, entrepreneur, gallerist, collector, curator, teacher, director, benefactor and patron.

As a patron and curator of photographic art, he gave his extensive collection to the Hamburg Deichtorhallen on permanent loan in 2003. The associated establishment of the House of Photography fulfilled F.C. Gundlach’s long-held wish, which began with the founding of the Arbeitskreis für Photographie (Working Group for Photography) in 1993 and the initiation of the first Triennial of Photography in Hamburg in 1999. F.C. Gundlach said in 2003, “I am especially pleased that the city of Hamburg has decided to give my collection such a representative location in the southern Deichtorhalle. The House of Photography is also meant to become a meeting place, a vital institution that, with changing exhibitions, workshops and symposia, will give the medium of photography the attention it deserves.” This enabled Hamburg to successfully join the circle of similar institutions that had long existed in France, Switzerland and the USA.

“F.C. Gundlach, a great photographer and photographic visionary, was one of the first to campaign for acceptance of photography as an art form. As early as 1975, he founded the PPS. Galerie F.C. Gundlach, one of the first photography galleries in Germany, and began to build up his photographic collection – long before photography had a permanent place in museums and long before the art market discovered it,” says Professor Dirk Luckow, General Director of the Deichtorhallen Hamburg. “It is thanks to his intense passion for collecting that his collection can today be counted among the most important private photographic collections of international standing. We are very proud to look after this extraordinary collection, to create exhibitions and to develop an extensive supporting programme based on it, thus keeping F.C. Gundlach’s life’s work alive.”

“Even beyond his active phase as founding director of the House of Photography from 2003 to 2005, F.C. Gundlach was always a highly valued advisor and source of inspiration for us. His voice carried weight in Hamburg and far beyond, he was considered the doyen of German photography. It is thanks to him and the founding of the Triennial of Photography and the House of Photography that Hamburg is the capital of photography in Germany,” adds Bert Antonius Kaufmann, Chief Financial Officer of the Deichtorhallen Hamburg.

“This multilayered medium would not be so widely discussed in Europe today if the visionary F.C. Gundlach had not treated every genre of photography equally from the start. After all, Gundlach believed in the Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan’s thesis that “The medium is the message,” just as he always promoted and collected new photography far above its market value. This attitude is still evident today at the House of Photography." – Ingo Taubhorn, curator of the House of Photography.

“The wonderful F.C. Gundlach Collection is not only a great source for the history of photography due to its multilayered holdings and its very exciting photographic auteurs. It has always been particularly fascinating for me not just to work with the photographs from the collection and to create entire parallel worlds, but also to “work on” my collector: To skillfully weave him into conversations. To motivate him to remember countless events. To watch with a smile as he indulged in spirited revelry, but at the same time also judged matters, aptly characterized them, corrected, brought up buried details, and just casually waved aside certain “facts.” F.C. Gundlach was a passionate witness of his time who embodied the history of photography—simply because he lived it.” – Dr. Sabine Schnakenberg, curator of the F.C. Gundlach Collection at the House of Photography.

For his tireless commitment to photography, F.C. Gundlach received numerous honours, including the Federal Cross of Merit with Ribbon, professorships at the Berlin University of the Arts and the Hamburg University of Fine Arts, the Cultural Award of the German Society for Photography, the leading German photography prize, the Henri Nannen Prize and many more.