The PhotoBook Journal

March 26, 2017

Klaus Pichler and Clemens Marschall – Golden Days Before They End

00-Pichler Cover.jpg

Photographer:  Klaus Pichler (Austrian, lives and works in Vienna)

Publisher:  Edition Patrick Frey, Zurich, Switzerland, © 2016

Essay and quotes:  Compiled and edited by Clemens Marschall

Text:  German or English (translated by Charlotte Maconochie and Clemens Marschall

Hardcover book, sewn binding; 250 unnumbered pages; 120 color photographs; German and English editions; including 100/96 pages of text, with quotes by owners and patrons, list of venues, and glossary; printed and bound in Austria; 29×23 cm

Photobook Designer:  Roland Hörmann



This work contains a pictorial portion of 120 color photographs by Klaus Pichler and four interspersed text portions totaling 96 pages (English edition) and 100 pages (German edition), bound in four segments within the picture sections. These text portions consist of a huge number of quotes (collected and edited by Clemens Marschall) that give fascinating insights into the lives of both the owners and the patrons of small Viennese bars that are the subject of the photographs, as well as a list of these 70 or so venues that the authors visited and depicted, a glossary of some of the choice phrases and terms from the quotes (how about “Baucherl” and “Strizzi” for starters!), and the customary publishing information. The German text portion is slightly larger because it includes an expanded glossary of choice local dialect and colloquial expressions. Wherever the images contain relevant language material, a translation is thoughtfully provided below the picture. An impressive collection of visual and textual data!

So here we have Vienna (not Hamburg as in the case of Anders Petersen’s Café Lehmitz), a documentation of not just one but many similar small bars, often on the brink of financial disaster and destined for a subsequent demise, and patrons that derive a “good time” both from the liquid refreshments consumed as well as from a shared coexistence marked by comfort and camaraderie. As for the photographic documentation, Pichler ably demonstrates the efficacy of color for this stark documentary work, where formerly monochrome images were the standard. Color is just fine for the impact that is required for this in-your-face dramatic presentation of people tableaus and “barscapes.” The horizontal format predominates. In 2013, Doug Stockdale reviewed a previous work by Klaus Pichler that also demonstrated his eye for the unusual.

A world that is not always so observable is shown here. These small bars are mostly very funky and idiosyncratic. Their customers are depicted in various stages of inebriation and sometimes acting out or clowning for the camera – they are being themselves and sharing their special world with us. In control of themselves or not, they do not seem to feel shame to show us their definition of togetherness and belonging. As outsiders looking in on them, we marvel at their narrowly defined bit of paradise. One of the intriguing tasks for the viewer is to imagine who said what, since the quotes articulated by owners and patrons, though attributed, are not assigned to any specific individuals depicted in the picture section, but they do allow us to study a variety of insider perspectives to complement the visual documentation.

I consider this comprehensive volume a most enjoyable new classic!

Gerhard Clausing









July 26, 2013

Klaus Pichler – Skeletons In The Closet

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 6:56 pm


Copyright Klaus Pichler 2013 self-published

Over a period of years Klaus Pichler roamed the backrooms, hallways and storage lockers of the Museum of Natural History in Vienna. He has created a series of absurd and humorous juxtapositions of found objects as well as those which border on haunting and the surreal.  Through serendipity, he observed those things which were not intended to grouped together, but yet behind the scenes in this Museum, it seems that anything might be possible. In the process, his documentary narrative reflects on our social norms.

Pichler states that only in a couple of instances did he stage the composition, as he was looking for the serendipity, irony and chance of the moment when an interesting composition unfolded in front of him. This would also mean that he was open to and seeing the possibilities as there is also an element of framing his subject to create a new and untended context. For me, whether these were found compositions or staged tableaux, it does not matter, as I find these mini theatrical stories to be very interesting and wonderful to read.

In the back-stage of a Natural Museum, there would be fewer individuals wondering about, but Pichler even eliminates this human aspect of these sterile conditions, his photographs are devoid of anyone expect for the dead animals. Nevertheless, indirect traces of mankind still abound, as someone has to bring the animal skins back to “life” once again. Overall, I found this to be a humorous read with surreal compositions, however fleeting these may have been at the time.

This book as an object; the front and back covers are unadorned boards with the hole in the front cover revealing the first interior photographic plate. The book does not have a cover on the spine, revealing the printed book block, which in conjunction with the boards, provides a symbolic rawness to this book. Indeed, this book is also a skeleton of a traditional hard-copy book. The binding allows a lay-flat design making the color plates of the book a pleasure to read. The two essays are by Herbert Justnik and Julia Edthofer.

Douglas Stockdale for The Photobook








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