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Axel Benzmann lived and worked as a documentary and press photographer in Berlin and undertook several photographic journeys. When he died in 2009, only a small part of his extensive photographic oeuvre was known.
Benzmann created his first photo portraits of West Berlin and Kreuzberg artists with whom he was on friendly terms. From the end of the 1960s, he photographed for Berlin and national media, especially West Berlin's (sub)cultural and nightlife and the art and pop culture scene in the FRG. In 1968 he documented the anti-Vietnam War protests and counter-demonstrations in Berlin. Images from this impressive series have been shown by Browse Gallery in various exhibitions documenting the contemporary historical context of artistic movements of the 1960s and 1970s in West Berlin. Benzmann's great passion was jazz. From 1967 and 1982, he privately accompanied the Berlin Jazz Days at the Philharmonie with photographs, creating in part iconic black-and-white portraits of Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, and other jazz greats. The differentiated observations of the musicians and their spontaneous musical expressiveness testify to Axel Benzmann's great photographic skills. The Browse Gallery is showing more than 100 photographs of the Jazz Days from its current review of Benzmann's photographic oeuvre in the context of EMOP Berlin 2023.
Axel Benzmann's works can be found in the collections of the Berlinische Galerie, the German Historical Museum and the Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz.
Axel Benzman, born in Berlin in 1939, died here in 2009.
After graduating from high school, studied chemistry at the Free University of Berlin. Worked as a sales manager and managing director in the chemical industry.
Since the early 1960s, autodidactic involvement with fine arts, especially printmaking.
Contacts with protagonists of the first independent art and cultural scene in post-war West Berlin, especially the so-called Kreuzberg Bohemians, exhibition of his graphic works.
Turns to photography, first black-and-white portraits of fellow artists.
From the mid-60s publications in daily newspapers, magazines, books.
Since the end of the 1960s, work as a freelance photographer and journalist for Berlin daily newspapers and magazines, especially photographs of West Berlin (sub)culture and nightlife and portraits of celebrities and the public of the art and pop culture business of the FRG.
1967 -1982 photographic accompaniment of the Berlin Jazz Festival (Jazztage) in the Philharmonie, iconic portraits of Miles Davis, Duke Ellington and many other musicians*.
1968 Documentation of the anti-Vietnam War protests and counter-demonstrators in Berlin.
From the end of the 60s, over 4 decades, extensive photo journeys, especially to regions that were hardly accessible at the time, Yemen, Papua New Guinea and others.
1976-1982 production of 6 photo films with travel pictures, SFB.
80's-90's further photo trips, then individual media publications.
From the turn of the millennium individual and group exhibitions.
His works can be found in the collections of the Berlinische Galerie, the German Historical Museum and the Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz.
2021 - Photographic group exhibition WENN DIE NACHT AM TIEFSTEN - TON STEINE SCHERBEN IN IHRER ZEIT, with numerous photographs by Axel Benzmann on subculture and everyday life in West Berlin in the 1960s and on the revolts of the APO and counter-demonstrations in 1968.
2014, Axel Benzmann. Frostbite. Artists, Revolutionaries and Berliners - Photographs from the Front City of West Berlin,Browse Gallery, Berlin, i.R. EMOP 2014.
2011, Axel Benzmann, Photographs of the Kreuzberg Bohemians, Theater Thikwa Berlin , i.R. Browse Fotofestival, Berlin.
2007, Axel Benzmann, World Religions, Gallery Carlos Hulsch, Berlin
2006, Axel Benzmann.Berliner Jazztage and the Kreuzberg Boheme, Gallery Imago Fotokunst, Berlin
2006, Axel Benzmann -Photographer, Gallery Art/Book, Berlin
2006, The ball is round, group exhibition, Axel Benzmann, Uwe Bremer; Arno Waldschmidt et al, Kommunale Galerie Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf
2002, Regards sur le vieux Vallauris. Group exhibition, Atelier 49, Vallauris, France
2001, Axel Benzmann, The long march! Allet vorn Arsch?, SPD constituency office Eckhardt Barschel, Berlin