The work of German photographer Dieter Blum (born 1936) is presented for the first time in the UK in two parallel exhibitions held in the West Midlands and organised by the Daimler Art Collection, Stuttgart/Berlin. The exhibition is entitled "Dieter Blum. Cowboys. The first shooting, 1992".
Photographs from the Daimler Art Collection on Show at Weston Park is organised in partnership with the Weston Park Foundation and focuses on the artist’s novel take on the cowboy subject, developed in this series which emerged in 1992 as trial shoots for the famous Marlboro advertising campaign. The photographs are now shown for the first time internationally since their rediscovery and purchase by the Daimler Art Collection in 2016.
The exhibition Cowboys. The First Shooting 1992. Photographs from the Daimler Art Collection on Show at Weston Park will, for the first time, bring a series of around 60 photographs by German photographer Dieter Blum to the heart of England, where they will be on show at the Granary Art Gallery in the grounds of the historic country house Weston Park.
Dieter Blum’s images on the theme of the Cowboy emerged in 1992 in the context of the famous Marlboro advertising campaign. Blum was invited to the USA by Philip Morris to produce a series of trial shoots and from 1994 onwards he eventually went on to produce the iconic imagery for the brand until 2004; he was the only German photographer to participate and his work would mark a high point in the advertising campaign.
Nevertheless, the trial shoots Blum produced prior to working on the campaign remained forgotten for almost 25 years since they were never published nor exhibited. Today, they enable us to understand how Blum laid the foundations to become one of the most influential international figures for product advertising and documentary photography at that time. Blum’s images were highly unusual as they show the daily life of cowboys as a novel and individual choice of subject-matter.
Cars and motorbikes, railroads and telephones, traffic lights and parking garages, daily newspapers and rodeos, the Stars and Stripes, contemporary parades and celebrations –this world of mundane phenomena has nothing to do with the world of Western and cowboy romance. It is seemingly a contradiction in terms. Dieter Blum puts the everyday world of the men working as cowboys, as depicted by him in 1992, into the centre. He photographs it from a bird’s-eye perspective, in close-up, in cut-out sections and in zoom view, in colour, in black-and-white, etc.
Dieter Blum’s team players on horseback from the first shoot of 1992, who are seen mastering the low-lying areas of the everyday, exist somewhere between the two major poles of the current reinterpretation of the cowboy myth. Photographing brief moments that are in fact impossible to photograph is one of the advantages of Dieter Blum’s essentially intuitive working methods. He succeeds in creating spectacular ›speed ornaments‹ out of the rapid movement of the animal, the rider, and the lasso.
It is as a result of these qualities of Blum’s Cowboy photographs in the context of the Marlboro campaign that the images have achieved a lasting place in our visual memory and are also relevant for the international art context. They provided the ›material‹ for a younger generation of artists, like Richard Prince, who have been working, in their turn, on the Cowboy theme.
In 2016, the trial shoots were acquired as a sole existing complete series by the Daimler Art Collection, Stuttgart/Berlin, the art collection of German car manufacturer Daimler AG, and exhibited for the first time to the public at Daimler Contemporary in Berlin.
The series is now being brought to the UK in a collaboration of the Weston Park Foundation with the Daimler Art Collection and exhibited for the first time internationally. This is also the first exhibition thus far in the UK dedicated to the work of Dieter Blum.