Published by Bywater Bros. Editions in conjunction with the Museum für Gegenwartskunst Basel; Swiss Institute / Contemporary Art, New York and Presentation House Gallery, Vancouver.
108 pages, hardcover
9.5 x 14.75 inches / 24.13 x 37.5 cm
Colour cover and inner pages
©2011 the Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger, care of Patrik Schedler, Zurich
For most of his adult life, Karlheinz Weinberger (1921–2006) worked in the warehouse department of the Siemens-Albis factory in Zurich. In his free time, he escaped his job’s monotony by immersing himself in photography. Self-taught and working under the pseudonym “Jim”, Weinberger began his artistic career taking pictures of his lovers and of people in the street. Some of these pictures were first published in the Swiss gay journal Der Kreis (or The Circle).
The images in this publication—a facsimile of a self-designed portfolio that Weinberger made in the mid-1950s—showcase the evolving documentary style that would define much of his later work. Jeans focuses on individual portraiture and his fascination for men in blue jeans, and article of clothing whose scarcity in post-war Switzerland and close association with American pop stars implied more than just a fashion statement. Blue jeans were a badge of status, differentiation and rebellion for working class Swiss boys and girls dissatisfied with the conservative climate of the day.
Weinberger processed and developed his photographs in his home darkroom and, until recently, his life’s work was largely unknown. Thankfully, now that his extraordinary images are gaining wider recognition, Weinberger can be appreciated as more than a documentarian, and as an artist whose photographs offer a genuine contribution to the history of portraiture.