Leni Riefenstahl :: Africa

Header Photo: Riefenstahl's African work began in the early 1960s and especially centred on her visits to Sudan. It should never be overlooked or thought of as an appendix to the body of work in the 1920s and 30s for in terms of beauty in her ouevre it is unsurpassed.

Riefenstahl was never the most subtle of artists or photographers and she kind of used a sledgehammer to get her message across but her photographs of the Nuba tribe are approaching a kind of tender, natural beauty seldom seen in her work elsewhere. That is not a criticism. Her work usually was about power and strength and she pioneered the way those attributes could be conveyed, in particular the ground shots of the atheletes in Olympia and the terrible, terrible strength of a Big Brother state in the Propaganda movie that is like a curse on the pages of History, Triumph Of The Will. Her Africa is where she let the guard drop, allowed us into the wanderings of her mind and showed a softer side she rarely showed.

It is poignant to recall that Riefenstahl remembered her experiences in Africa as the happiest moments in her life.

There was an awesome Taschen ltd edn release of Africa around her 100th birthday in 2002. There were 2,500 copies worldwide, each numbered and signed by Riefenstahl. If you ever saw it and everything about it I don't think there has ever been a more beautiful Riefenstahl release.

They come onto the market rarely but go for gigantic money.

Photo © Estate of Leni Riefenstahl. Text © Paul Page, 2014.

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