Martin Karplus “Photographs 1953 – 2009”

Austrian Cultural Forum NYC

poster for Martin Karplus “Photographs 1953 – 2009”

This event has ended.

Martin Karplus is a chemist, Professor emeritus at Harvard University, and Nobel laureate who has spent the past fifty years consumed by a passion for documenting humanity in thousands of photographs. Sourced from Europe, Asia, and the Americas, these photographs candidly capture societies at pivotal moments in their cultural and economic development in rich Kodachrome color. From September 25 through November 28, the Austrian Cultural Forum New York will present these works in his first ever New York retrospective, Martin Karplus: Photographs 1953- 2009.

In 1953, nearing the completion of his PhD at Cal Tech, the Austrian-born, American Karplus received his uncle’s Leica camera as a gift from his parents and headed to Oxford University on a fellowship. In the ensuing years he would spend months on end exploring the globe, documenting what he describes in his artist statement as a “vision of a world, much of which no longer exists”. Images from the Netherlands, Denmark, Greece, Italy, France, Yugoslavia, and Germany present the closure of a bygone lifestyle as societies modernized and rebuilt in the wake of World War 2 and the dawning of the Cold War. Further travels throughout the 1950s took him to the Americas, where he photographed the exuberance of suburban Californian prosperity alongside Native and Latin Americans living a way of life uninterrupted for centuries, yet largely unheard of today. A more recent series from 2008-09 presents a look at China and India as each nation’s unfurling economy brings rapid modernization, as well as to Japan, where it has firmly taken root.

The pictures reflect the inquisitive glance and the profoundly humanist vision of a young scientist in the idealistic post- war period. Taking pains to capture truly candid images, Karplus would employ a Leica Hektor long-focus lens, focusing on nearby objects in a technique reminiscent of American Farm Security Administration photographers. The then-novel 35mm Kodachrome film infuses these images with its distinctively rich, saturated tone, breathing a vibrant life into scenes ranging from Chinese rice paddies to early Communist Yugoslavia and the beaches of California.



from September 25, 2014 to November 28, 2014

Opening Reception on 2014-09-24 from 19:30 to 21:00


Martin Karplus

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