Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Frank Habicht (b.1938) : photographer

The era of the 1960’s is synonymous with dramatic political and social revolution and change. This decade saw the conservatism and restrictions of the preceding post war 1950’s give way to a more radical libertine generation committed to fostering utopian ideals of free love, world peace and harmony. Fashion defined the freedom of the era in the designs of Mary Quant, with the invention of the bikini, with the rise of the hemline in the miniskirt and the reign of the supermodel in Twiggy. It was the decade that saw the Beatles and the Rolling Stones invade America, the peak of the civil rights movement, the assassination of John F Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Malcom X. Widespread protests against the Vietnam War erupted while the end of the decade gave rise to hope as the world witnessed for the first time, a man walking on the moon. This fertile environment encompassed Europe in the 1960’s - an era that was captured through the lens of Frank Habicht.
Born in Hamburg in 1938, Habicht began his career as a photographer in 1960 attending the Hamburg School of Photography, from which he graduated in 1962. He quickly became established as a freelance photographer and writer in Europe submitting works to be published in magazines including Camera Magazine, Spigelreflex Praxis, Twen, Jasmin, Esquire, Hoer Zu, Die Welt, Sunday Times (UK) and The Guardian. Habicht also gained employment working as a stills photographer for film directors, Bryan Forbes, Roman Polanski and Jules Dassin (1965-68), as in-house photographer for the Playboy Club in London (1970) and as a freelance photographer for Top of the Pops (1969). These encounters certainly provided Habicht direct access to international pop idols and film stars who became subjects of his most celebrated photographs and included Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, actor/director duo Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg, actors Vanessa Redgrave, Marty Feldman and Christopher Lee, director Roman Polanski and photographer Lord Lichfield.
Habicht’s images capture the uninhibited spirit of the times offering a glimpse into the heady period that still manages to arrest the imagination some forty years later. His book "Young London, Permissive Paradise", a social document on London's youth, was published in the late sixties. Another photographic book, "In the Sixties" (Tandem Press & Axis Publishing London 1997), juxtaposed those who achieved international fame with the unnamed, not recorded in history books. Frank says his main concern in photography is the process of communication to attempt to keep a situation alive by fusing observer and observed.
In 1981 Frank left a successful international career to reside in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands, drawn to this unique country for its beauty and tranquillity. He now spends much of his time devoted to creating images that celebrate the landscape and community in and around the Bay of Islands where he lives. His two books, Bay of Islands Where the Sunday Grass is Greener an acclaimed satirical pictorial on New Zealand’s Bay of Islands with Kiki and Helme Heine and his recent Bay of Islands A Paradise Found with Bob Molloy (Totara Press, Paihia 1995) capture the fun and friendship to be found in this stunning part of New Zealand.
In October 2004 Frank exhibited his 'Karma Sixties' collection at the Colette Gallery in Paris. In July 2007 Random House publishes Frank & son Florian Habicht’s photographic book 'I DO" - classic New Zealand weddings. Florian Habicht’s new film project 'Permissive Paradise' is inspired by Frank’s experiences as a photographer in London during the sixties.
It is anticipated that Frank’s fascinating images will certainly captivate the wider public both young and old alike. Though they depict the recent past, the images are timeless and contemporary, retaining their relevance either for those generations who experienced the sixties firsthand or for those who are a product of them. 
Franks AKL exhibition in June 2007 'Hightide and Green Grass' attracted nationwide critical acclaim and New Zealand’s current affairs TV show ‘Sunday' paid homage to his work of this immortal decade.
A party in the spirit of the 'The Sixties' was held in Moscow on April 18, 2008 at the exclusive Arterium Gallery to celebrate the opening of Frank Habicht's exhibition. Paris Hilton was one of the celebrity guests. Funds were collected by the charitable foundation 'Peace Planet' in aid of orphaned children.
During the past years Frank has compiled a portfolio of images juxtaposing the diverse extremes of our society in Cities and Places without their traditional landmarks. He observed the human contradictions, absurdities, the mystical, the fragilities, reality and fantasy - capturing togetherness, despair, rebellion, joy and sadness. Simply, life's beauty and drama...looking for what hides behind the human soul.

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