40 Years of laif

laif Internal
laif Internal
»40 Years of laif – Forty Positions in Documentary Photography«
Anniversary Exhibition at the Museum of Applied Arts Cologne

Founded in 1981 by the four photographers Günter Beer, Jürgen Bindrim, Manfred Linke, and Guenay Ulutuncok in Cologne’s South, laif is regarded as one of Germany’s most renowned agencies for photojournalism. To mark its 40th anniversary, the exhibition “Forty Years of laif – Forty Positions in Documentary Photography” is showing at the Museum of Applied Arts Cologne from 12 March to 25 September 2022.




The photographers selected by curator Peter Bialobrzeski, Peter Bitzer, and Manfred Linke illustrate the world with its conflicts and fault lines, but also show how art and solidarity can connect people. Furthermore, the works reflect the aesthetic development of documentary photography from the 1980s to the present and bring to life 40 years of contemporary history.

Peter Bialobrzeski, Kurator

»While the pioneer photographers still used classic black-and-white photography and close-ups to illustrate protests against nuclear energy, armament, and airport expansions, the 1990s saw the increasing prioritisation of colour photography alongside the technical means of reproduction available to the press.«


Each position is dedicated to a year between laif’s founding in 1981 and today. They were either taken, prominently published, or received an important award in the year in question. These images not only represent the agency’s values, but also illustrate the diversity and evolvement of documentary and journalistic photography from 1981 to 2021.

The show includes photo series by:

Christian Als, Christoph Bangert, Theodor Barth, Günter Beer, Regina Bermes, Jürgen Bindrim, Peter Bialobrzeski, Jan-Peter Boening, Katharina Bosse, James Whitlow Delano, Barbara Dombrowski, Stephan Elleringmann, Norbert Enker, Maria Feck, Bettina Flitner, Peter Granser, Jan Grarup, Andreas Herzau, James Hill, Sandra Hoyn, Britta Jaschinski, Hannes Jung, David Klammer, Vincent Kohlbecher, Axel Krause, Dirk Krüll, Michael Lange, Paul Langrock, Frederic Lezmi, Manfred Linke, Kai Löffelbein, André Lützen, Ingmar Björn Nolting, Helena Schätzle, Henrik Spohler, Berthold Steinhilber, Andreas Teichmann, Wolfgang Volz, Gordon Welters, Michael Wolf.

Parallel to the exhibition, the museum’s cinematic programme CineMAKK will be showing films by or about laif photographers on every first Thursday of the month. The selection features contributions by David Klammer, documentaries on works by Peter Bialobrzeski, Bettina Flitner, and Wolfgang Volz.







Our thanks go to our sponsors and partners:
The Museum of Applied Arts Cologne, the Lempertz Auction House, Ströer, the Kulturwerk Foundation of the VG Bild-Kunst , Neustart Kultur, and especially to WhiteWall for the production of the exhibition prints.

Alexander Nieswandt, CEO WhiteWall

»As a photo laboratory in the region of Cologne we are happy to support the anniversary exhibition “Forty Years of laif – Forty Positions in Documentary Photography” at Cologne’s MAKK. Like WhiteWall, laif has close ties with Cologne’s photography scene, and we look forward to this cooperation with eager anticipation«