Description

As a gay artist, Herbet List not only captured moments that were connected to a glance of erotic desire but also developed a visual language to symbolize love and friendship in same-sex couples. Produced during a politically turbulent moment in European history, his work shows an escapist and idealist state of mind, where the power of youth and romance perseveres. But beneath the playful surface of List’s compositions lies deeper explorations of sexuality, framed within the context of a culture where, in many countries, homosexuality was illegal.

The pictures I took spontaneously - with a bliss-like sensation, as if they had long inhabited my unconscious - were often more powerful than those I had painstakingly composed. I grasped their magic as in passing

Herbert List
© Herbert List | Magnum Photos

Herbert List was a classically educated artist who combined a love of photography with a fascination for surrealism and classicism.

Greece became List’s primary interest during the late 30s. His first visit to the antique temples, sculptures and landscapes, his first solo show opened in Paris in the summer of 1937. Publications in Life, Photographie, Verve and Harper’s Bazaar followed, and List began work on his first book, Licht Ueber Hellas, which wasn’t published until 1953.

He became a contributor to Magnum in 1951 but rarely accepted assignments. During the 50s he began using a 35mm camera and telephoto lens and was influenced by the spontaneity of Henri Cartier-Bresson. In his final decades his interest in photography waned and he turned his focus to collecting Old Master drawings. Herbert List died in Munich in 1975.

© Herbert List | Magnum Photos

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