Following Karambolage, On Duty and Off Duty (all published by Steidl), Arnold Odermatt’s (born 1935) After Work presents us with more rediscovered masterpieces by a photographer who trained himself primarily through his police job in the small, secluded Swiss canton of Nidwalden. Odermatt has thus developed his own artistic fingerprint which served him well during his working days as well as after-hours. Off duty, Odermatt often volunteered to take pictures all around his canton. Most of those pictures were shot only once, developed on demand and then archived in the attic, sinking into oblivion. Luckily, the photographer’s son found the treasure and takes care of its reevaluation. After Work is the fourth volume in a series of books that brings into focus this extraordinary work.
Between 1939 and 1993, Arnold Odermatt (born 1925) documented car accidents in Nidwalden for the Swiss police office. His poignant, unpeopled, sometimes funny and always strange atmospheric photographs call to mind such precedents as Weegee's crime pictures from the 1930s and 40s. They were introduced to the art world when Harald Szeeman exhibited them at the 49th Venice Biennale.
This is the new and revised edition of Arnold Odermatt's acclaimed Off Duty, first published in 2010. Does any family not have family photos? Every other picture taken is a family photograph and most are glanced at quickly and just as quickly wiped from memory. In this sea of sameness, Arnold Odermatt's family photos bear his signature style, standing out for their clarity and order and the detached demeanor of his subjects. Arnold Odermatt, police officer and photographer, achieved fame with his photographic journal of car accidents, Karambolage. His last book, On Duty, documented the small police corps with which he worked for many years, effectively advertising their skills and services. In this book, he shows life after the officer has parked his cruiser in the garage, turned off the scanner and hung his uniform in the closet. Showered and clad in fresh shirts and clean blouses, the photographer's spouse, son and daughter wait in the living room or garden for their close-ups. Sometimes they wait patiently and at other times they are annoyed--not very different from the reactions of colleagues on duty, who also learned that a good photograph takes time. Odermatt created an impressive document of life within a small village, where the police officer off-duty was not exactly private but civilian. All new and improved color and tritone plates!
Published by Steidl Photography International. Edited by Urs Odermatt.
Even with the advent of the digital camera and the electronic storage of photos, every family still has at least a few family snapshots, and many have album upon album and box upon box. Individual snapshots are often glanced at casually before they are set aside and vanish from memory, but in this private sea of photographic uniformity, Arnold Odermatt's family pictures, collected here, manage to convey a signature style, standing out for their clarity and order, and for the oddly detached demeanor of their subjects. Odermatt, a Swiss police officer and crime photographer, achieved fame with his black-and-white journal of 1940s-1990s car accidents, Karambolage. His second book, On Duty, documented the daily life of the small police corps with which he worked for many years, effectively advertising their skills and services. In Off Duty, Odermatt shows life after the officer has parked his cruiser in the garage, turned off his scanner and hung his uniform in the closet, creating a wonderful document of life within a small village, in which the civilian side of the off-duty police officer is allowed to emerge.
Arnold Odermatt joined the police force in his native Swiss canton of Nidwalden in 1948, when he was just in his twenties. When he retired more than 40 years later as Vice Commander of the department and Lieutenant Director of Traffic Police, he found sudden, unexpected fame as an artist. His photographs of the vehicle accidents that had been part of his professional life, collected in the book Karambolage, led to international recognition: His work was shown at the 2001 Armory Fair and Venice Biennale, followed by solo exhibitions at The Art Institute of Chicago in 2002 and at the Fotomuseum Winterthur in 2004.