In 2016, Renate Wiehager, as head of the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection, conceived the exhibition “Dieter Blum: Cowboys. The First Shooting 1992” for the Daimler Contemporary Berlin exhibition space. The entire series of photographs was subsequently shown at the Granary Gallery, Weston Park, Birmingham. The Hatje Cantz publishing house published the first comprehensive publication of the “Cowboys” series in 2016, with a text by Renate Wiehager. As artistic director of the Esslinger Kunstverein, Christian Gögger organized the first major retrospective with Dieter Blum in the Villa Merkel in Esslingen in 2012. He took the initiative to discuss the "Cowboy" photos in an art context in these solo exhibitions on the work of Dieter Blum in 2012 and 2015 as well as in the thematic exhibition "foto.com".
Dr. Renate Wiehager about the work of Dieter Blum: Dieter Blum's work, which has developed over six decades, is one of the most important, influential positions on the borderline between free and applied photographic art. In long-term designed and realized photo series, the photographer dedicated himself to the landscapes, people, culture as well as international political and economic developments of his time between Japan and the USA, Russia and the African continent. The book “The Orchestra – The Inner World of the Berliner Philharmoniker”, 1983, marks the start of his passionate photo-artistic accompaniment of outstanding protagonists of music and dance theater. From this wide range of works, the Behncke Gallery presents outstanding individual works from the areas of “Cowboys” and “Dance”. In 1992, Dieter Blum was invited to the USA for his first test shooting for Marlboro. The resulting images, which were never shown before 2016, were the basis for Blum to become the internationally best-known photographer in this context. Dieter Blum not only had a strong influence on the Marlboro campaign, but also on product advertising and documentary photography of his time.
The series "Cowboys - The First Shooting 1992", comprising around 60 photos, celebrates, it seems at first glance, the "myth of America": the wide horizon of the prairie, against which the red-hot sun sets, galloping horses and casual ones swinging lassos Cowboys. A closer look, however, shows that the classic topos of the “Lonesome Cowboy” has been humorously broken and replaced by a “worker” who carries out everyday activities in a team – standing at the bar, reading the newspaper, doing laundry, skiing, takes a bath. A captivating picture story that merges and deconstructs fiction and reality, myth and reality.
Dieter Blum has worked with the Stuttgart Ballet since around 1990. He created scenic situations in the studio and designed his own costumes for erotically charged 'pas de deux'. He repeatedly photographed the dancers unclothed, in the brief moment of breathtaking jumps and plastic-physical formations. Blum has dedicated his own series to the legendary dancers Ismael Ivo and Vladimir Malakhov. Blum's photo-artistic aesthetic of the iconic form is also reminiscent of positions in classical sculpture within the horizon of art history: for Blum, the independence of the figure as a sculpture corresponds to the increase in physical expression.\
The conversation with the artist is dedicated to the dialogue between the topics of “cowboys” and “dance” in the Behncke Gallery and the image of men in its diverse aspects.