Herbert Tobias, The Berlin-Party is over, 1961
Herbert Tobias, The Berlin-Party is over, 1961

Herbert Tobias

The Berlin-Party is over, 1961

Herbert Tobias was born in Dessau in 1924. He grew up in a petit-bourgeois family and began to take photographs even as a child. Initially, his wish to become a professional actor remained unfulfilled after his father’s early death in 1936. Instead, he completed training as a land surveyor. In 1942 this was followed by his call-up to military service. He took his first photographs with impressive artistic maturity on the eastern front. After the war, Tobias attended acting school for one year and subsequently travelled the provinces with a touring company. His coming out took place at the end of the forties. In 1951 he and his partner moved to Paris, where he occasionally worked for the well-known fashion photographer Willy Maywald and published some of his own pictures for the first time. He returned to Germany in 1953 and became famous overnight by winning the title-page competition of the Frankfurter Illustrierte. In 1954 he moved to Berlin, where he experienced his most successful years professionally. Tobias worked for reputable fashion companies and various magazines. Parallel to this, he produced a number of independent works including city views, portraits of prominent people and, first and foremost, images of men. At the high point of his career he abandoned his routines and made fresh attempts to work as an actor and singer; however, he lost his grip on society while leading an unstable life of erotomania and drug-induced excesses. In 1969 he moved to Hamburg, designed record covers for various companies, and worked for homosexual magazines. The photographer’s rediscovery was initiated by an exhibition in the Berlin Galerie Nagel in 1981, for which Tobias made new prints of his photos from the fifties and sixties. Tobias was unable to finish a planned and already partially realised book project. He died of Aids in Hamburg in August 1982.

The Berlin-Party is over, 1961
Gelatine silver print
34.4 x 34.5 cm
Estate Herbert Tobias, 1986/1995

© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2011

 
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