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Social Documentary Photography, Documentary Photography and Nature Photography from 1930 to 1935 and after 1945

The woodcuts of Franz Masereel in their strong chiaroscuro and political subject matter, the drawings of Heinrich Zille in their loving and angry observation of the social milieu, the graphic monumentality of the workers' figures and women in the work of Käthe Kollwitz, the hard bite of the drawings of a George Grosz, who unmasks the bourgeoisie in its predatory nature by sketching its character mask, the photographically cool gaze of the painter Max Liebermann on the world of work and backyards, farm labour, and the force and gravity of Ernst Barlach's sculptures - Ballhause studied all of these. Like them with the drawing pencil, the brush, the chalk, the chisel, he becomes a social artist with the camera. [...] He creates images that, in their aesthetic quality, their feeling, their objectivity and hardness of social statement, belong next to the works of fine art he cherishes.

(Boström, Jörg: Ein Nachruf auf den Fotografen Walter Ballhause, in: Website Arbeiterfotografie, accessed on 02.02.2021, URL:

It is stated, not interpreted! The misery of the declining Weimar Republic appears broken down into typical groupings, which, in the example of the provincial city of Hanover, captures both: the metropolitan and at the same time the remnants of all proletarian traditions. Ballhause is a photographer of people. The industrial complex is left out. What he captures in the contemporary image is the lifeworld of the lower classes.

(Beicken, Peter, in: Solidarisches Sehen oder Weimars Ende in Hannover. Der Arbeiterphotograph Walter Ballhause, in: Die Horen, 27th year, vol. 2 (1982), issue 126, p. 63–70)

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