Whilst capturing images from a small handheld device may be something that we take for granted today, the invention of the first compact photo camera a hundred years ago was a breakthrough for professional and amateur photographers alike. And that very first small-size camera was none other than the legendary Leica. Originally intended for landscape photography use, it was however soon deployed by photo reporters and others due to its small size and the high quality of its pictures (the first Leica used 35mm cinema film). Exactly one century after its invention in 1914, a major exhibition has been organised at the House of Photography at the Deichtorhallen Museum in Hamburg. Curated by Hans-Michael Koetzle, the exhibition EYES WIDE OPEN: 100 YEARS OF LEICA PHOTOGRAPHY attempts - for the first time - to offer a comprehensive overview of the change in photography brought about by the invention and introduction of the infamous Leica. Approximately 400 photographs, supplemented by documentary material, recount the history of small-format photography from its beginnings to the present day, including important material on loan from the factory archives of Leica Camera AG in Wetzlar - some of which has never been shown before.
This landmark exhibition which is spread across 14 chapters in the vast spaces of the Deichtorhallen is more than just a historical presentation of the Leica camera; rather, it is, according to the curators, an exploration into ''how the photographic gaze changed as a result of the Leica and the small-format picture'' in general. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue that is equally monumental in both size and content and includes no less than 1,200 photos. Following its premiere at the House of Photography at the Deichtorhallen Hamburg, the EYES WIDE OPEN: 100 YEARS OF LEICA PHOTOGRAPHY exhibition will travel to Frankfurt, Berlin, Vienna and Munich.