The picture shows a young woman in a white dress. She is dancing. In the background you can see women, men and children looking at her. Exhibition: Sabine Weiss. A Photographer's Life

Sabine Weiss. A Photographer’s Life

6. September 2024 24. November 2024

On the occasion of the 100th birthday of the French-Swiss photographer Sabine Weiss (1924-2021), f³ – freiraum für fotografie is showing a retrospective of her work for the first time in Germany.

Sabine Weiss is one of the most important representatives of French humanist photography of the 20th century, with a career spanning more than seven decades. Humanist photography, which essentially combined the philosophy of the Enlightenment with social documentary practice, emerged after the Second World War. Photographers such as Robert Doisneau, Willy Ronis and Brassaï were famous representatives. Whether reportage, illustrations, fashion, advertising, portraits of artists or personal works: Sabine Weiss saw all areas of photography as a challenge, as a pretext for encounters and travel, as a means of living and self-expression.

The exhibition Sabine Weiss. A Photographer’s Life, which the author worked on until her death, tells of this lifelong passion and sheds light on the focal points of a body of work that develops around the human condition. Using original prints, archive documents and films, the exhibition paints a portrait of a photographer who was driven by an insatiable curiosity about other people, whether in France, where she settled in 1946, in the USA or on her countless travels throughout Europe. 

In 2016 and 2018, Sabine Weiss was honored with two exhibitions at the Jeu de Paume Château de Tours and the Musée National d’Art Moderne at the Centre Pompidou in Paris and received the 2020 Women In Motion Award for photography presented by Kering as part of a highly acclaimed retrospective at the Rencontres d’Arles photography festival. Due to the diverse and positive response, she agreed to open her personal archive and make her multi-layered work accessible to the public.

Sabine Weiss (née Weber) was born in Saint-Gingolph, Switzerland, in 1924. She completed an apprenticeship as a photographer in the studio of the renowned photographer Paul Boissonnas in Geneva and then settled in Paris, where she assisted the German fashion photographer Willy Maywald. From 1949, she worked as a freelance photographer. Her photographs were published in Esquire, Vogue, Paris Match, Life and Time magazines, among others. In 1952 she joined the Rapho agency. Weiss realized over 170 solo exhibitions and was represented with her photographs in more than 80 group exhibitions, including Edward Steichen’s famous exhibition The Family of Man at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Her estate is managed by Photo Elysée in Lausanne and comprises around 160,000 negatives, 7,000 contact sheets, 8,000 prints, 46,000 slides and various documentary materials.

The exhibition is curated by photo historian Virginie Chardin, organized by f³ – freiraum für fotografie, produced by Sabine Weiss Studio and Photo Elysée, with the support of Jeu de Paume, Les Rencontres d’Arles and Women In Motion, a Kering program to shine a light on women in arts and culture.


In cooperation mit:

Logo von Photo ElyseeLogo Atelier Sabine Weiss


Logo Kering


Image: Roma, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France, 1960 © Sabine Weiss, Collections Photo Elysée, Lausanne