Toni Schneiders is one of Germany’s most important photographers after 1945.
Together with Peter Keetmann, Siegfried Lauterwasser, Wolfgang Reisewitz, Otto Steinert and Ludwig Windstoßer, he founded the group “fotoform” in 1949. This group was a loose organization of experimental photographers, who took up an outstanding position within the artistic photography in post-war Europe. Stylistically, the artists tied in with the photographic experiments of the ‚Neues Sehen’ of the 1920s, while formally and aesthetically trying to strike a new path after the cultural barbarianism of the Nazi period.
The stylistic movement of ‚subjective photography’, which the group developed – characterized by formal abstraction and its pictorial claim – is, from today’s point of view, the most important contribution to the renewal of photography in Germany after 1945. It is not the objective rendering of reality which ‚subjective photography’ strives for, but the pictorial analysis and personal interpretation through subjective pictorial ideas. The result is a formally conscious structural black and white photography with stressed graphic values.
As such, the group succeeded to break away from the conventional, traditional form of photography of the time in an outstanding manner.
Since the beginning of the 1950s, Schneiders worked as a freelance photographer, concentrating on a combination of form and content.
With his camera, he captured motifs from art, architecture, landscape and industry – in diverse emotional moods, whether melancholic, poetic or serene.
From the end of the fifties, Toni Schneiders’ photographs document his tireless journeys which led him to Ethiopia, diverse European countries, Japan and South East Asia. In these works, he kept hold of his curiosity for “these things out there”.
Schneiders received the culture award of the German Society for Photography in 1999, together with Siegfried Lauterwasser and Wolfgang Reiseweitz.