Hans Steiner. Chronique de la vie moderne

09.02 – 15.05.2011

A major figure in Swiss photography, Hans Steiner was part of the golden age of Swiss photojournalism (1930s and 1940s). The Musée de l’Elysée wishes to restore the reputation of this great but unjustly forgotten photographer, with an emphasis on his modernist vision of society.


A privileged witness, both unconventional and decidedly optimistic of a society starting to focus on consumption, Steiner offers a different and more urban vision of Switzerland, in which women, sport, entertainment and advertising gain a new visibility.

This exhibition has the dual aim of showing the most representative and the most attractive of Steiner’s images and of offering a contemporary perspective on a historical subject.


The exhibition will be accompanied by a bilingual French-German catalogue, which presents a selection of 220 photographs by Hans Steiner, as well as documents in colour, such as contact sheets and illustrated covers. Several articles take stock of the substantial research undertaken throughout the project to understand the growing interest in Hans Steiner and the reasons for the deserved rediscovery of his work.


Hans Steiner left an archive of nearly 100,000 photographs. These are images form Steiner’s existential manifesto, between art and document, fiction and event. In thirty minutes, and with nearly three hundred photographs, the viewer can travel through the 20th century, including the history of photography, the history of Switzerland and the original destiny of a photographer. The main contributors to the Hans Steiner: Un destin de photographe exhibition also express their views in various interviews that illustrate the many aspects of this project.


After being shown in Lausanne, the Hans Steiner: Chronique de la vie moderne exhibition will go on a national tour starting at the Fotostiftung in Winterthour (28th May - 9th October 2011), the Médiathèque Valais – Martigny (29th October 2011 - 29th January 2012) and the Museo Villa dei Cedri de Bellinzona (10th March 2012 - 3rd June 2012).


The Hans Steiner: Chronique de la vie moderne exhibition has been made possible through close collaboration between different institutions. The extraordinary collection of images in possession of the Musée de l’Elysée has undergone extensive restoration, development, digitisation and promotion, led by the museum in partnership with Unil, Memoriav, the Swiss Institute for the Conservation of Photography in Neuchâtel and the Büro für Fotografiegeschichte in Bern.