Friedrich Robert Otto Emmel (*1888 GER), May tree on the Römerberg and swastika flags with public, Frankfurt 1936 © Historisches Museum Frankfurt

Friedrich Robert Otto Emmel (*1888 GER), Stalls on a festival meadow for the May celebration, behind them swastika flags and a grandstand with a large swastika, Frankfurt between 1933 and 1944 © Historisches Museum Frankfurt

Friedrich Robert Otto Emmel (*1888 GER), Spectators on grass runway at Frankfurt Airport watch a zeppelin land, Frankfurt after 1936 © Historisches Museum Frankfurt

Friedrich Robert Otto Emmel (*1888 GER), Adolf Hitler speaks in the festival hall, Frankfurt March 16, 1935 © Historisches Museum Frankfurt

Nice Neat Picture World – Learning to Look Away?
2 June 2021 – 3 June 2022

“Nice Neat Picture World – Learning to Look Away?” sheds light on an epoch in the history of photography in Frankfurt distinguished by a massively manipulative structure: photojournalism under National Socialism.

The oeuvre of the photographer Otto Emmel (*1888 GER–?), who was at the height of his career in the Nazi period, serves here as a case in point. Emmel’s photojournalistic and other photographic works were published regularly in the Frankfurter Zeitung. The examples presented in the exhibition revolve around everyday life in the city, political and cultural events, celebrations and sports. The photos show human interaction between individuals, within and between groups in the urban space. How was the city’s architecture used for the aesthetic formation of Nazi ideology? And what role did photographers play in the process?

The exhibition examines photographic motifs offering insights into daily life under National Socialism from the various perspectives we, as viewers of the present, adopt in our perception of the visual media today: for example the political, psychological, social, emotional, and artistic perspectives. How did the images create and steer public discussion by way of their rhetorical function? How did they shape the depiction of everyday life and society in the Nazi system? How did they appeal to the individual viewer? And what did they leave out? The presentation “Nice Neat Picture World” will also show how critical contemporaries sought to describe that medium’s functions and forms. Here the focus is on the interplay between the viewer and the photograph.

The estate of Otto Emmel of Frankfurt is one of several surviving major estates of photojournalists active in Frankfurt in the Nazi era and is now in the posession of the HMF. Emmel’s biography will be reconstructed to the extent possible within the framework of the presentation.

“Nice Neat Picture World” is also setting the scene for the comprehensive special exhibition “Frankfurt and National Socialism – A City Plays Along” opening at the HMF on 28 October, 2021.

Historisches Museum Frankfurt
Saalhof 1, 60311 Frankfurt am Main

8 Euro / 4 Euro (reduced)
Free entry on every last Saturday of the month (including August)

Opening hours
Mon closed
Tue - Fri 10 am - 6 pm
Sat - Sun 11 am - 7 pm