Photographic Archive of the Rhine Art Scene (AFORK)

Manfred Leve, Trier 1936 – 2012; Karl Otto Götz, Düsseldorf 1959; S/W-Fotografie, Gelatinesilberabzug; Archiv künstlerischer Fotografie der rheinischen Kunstszene; © Manfred Leve
Manfred Leve, 1936 – 2012; Karl Otto Götz, Düsseldorf 1959; S/W-Fotografie, Gelatinesilberabzug; Archiv künstlerischer Fotografie der rheinischen Kunstszene; © Nachlass Manfred Leve

In 2003, the Photographic Archive of the Rhine Art Scene (AFORK) was founded with the objective of making the history of the Rhineland’s post-1950s art scene accessible through photographic documents, which can neither be adequately portrayed by written sources nor by artworks. The line-up of artists on display reads like a selection from the who is who of contemporary art: Bernd and Hilla Becher, Joseph Beuys, Tony Cragg, Katharina Fritsch, Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Jörg Immendorff, Markus Lüpertz, Nam June Paik, Otto Piene, Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, Thomas Schütte, Thomas Struth, and Günther Uecker – to name a few. While several works by these artists can be found in the world’s major museums, the happenings, actions, and exhibitions – many of which have become legendary – are often only preserved in the memory of those involved. It is a stroke of luck for art history and the multifaceted art scene of Düsseldorf that renowned photographers specialised in recording these events by camera early on – among them Bernd Jansen, Benjamin Katz, Erika Kiffl, Ute Klophaus, Manfred Leve, Reiner Ruthenbeck and others. Currently encompassing more than 8,000 paper prints alongside well over 30,000 Ektachromes and negatives, the ever-expanding collection is an indispensable source for art historical research and international exhibition projects. The nearly 100 photographers, whose works are brought together here, are thereby not merely documentarians but creators of images with artistic vigour and originality in their own right.

You can find a selection of works from the AFORK here.

Erika Kiffl, Karlsbad, 1939 – lebt in Düsseldorf; Ulrike Rosenbach; Performance Meine Macht ist meine Ohnmacht; Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf, 1978
Erika Kiffl: Ulrike Rosenbach, Performance „Meine Macht ist meine Ohnmacht“, im Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf, 1978, S/W-Fotografie, Silbergelatineabzug, AFORK

The AFORK – the acquisitions of which have hitherto regularly been funded by the Kunststiftung NRW – holds comprehensive bulks of works by the photographers Benjamin Katz, Erika Kiffl, and Manfred Leve, all of whom were involved in building up the archive in its early years. Donating his art collection to Museum Kunstpalast in 2011, Willi Kemp added all of the photographs taken during his encounters with artist friends to the AFORK. In 2013, Nic Tenwiggenhorn presented his lifework to the archive, including paper prints, Ektachromes, and small-format negatives. Since 2017, it holds the complete archive of Erika Kiffl – a total of 9,000 negatives. Additionally, the AFORK’s repertoire was extended by bulks of works from Leonardo Bezzola, Anna Giese, Gianfranco Gorgoni, Peter Moore, Angelika Platen, Sebastian Riemer, Joaquín Romero Frías, Jörg Sasse, Katharina Sieverding, Claudia van Koolwijk, Julia van Koolwijk, Hildegard Weber, Jost Wischnewski, Lothar Wolleh, and others, thus also documenting the more recent art scene.

pdf of the list of publications
For catalogue orders please contact: petra.hecht(at)
Out-of-print catalogues are available for reference at the library.

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