Rune Hassner was a leading opinion maker for Swedish photography, and his ideas have influenced documentary photography in Sweden for a half a century. His photographs are now being presented in the exhibit Fotografier (Photography), a retrospective of Hassner’s work as a photographer and filmmaker.
Rune Hassner (1928-2003), the man behind the innovative work on the history of photography press and photography journalism, Bilder för miljoner (Photos for Millions), published in 1977, is also known for his significant contributions as a photographer, filmmaker, author, photographic journalist, and photography historian.
Hassner worked out of Paris between 1949 and 1957 for Swedish magazines and publishers in Europe, the US, and Africa. He photographed fashion pieces, prepared pictorial reports, and travelled on assignment to West India, Central America, and China. He published several books with well-known authors, such as Sköna Frankrike (1951) (Beautiful France) with Sven Stolpe and Jambo!(1954) with Olle Strandberg. He did both the photography and wrote the text to Det nya Kina (1957) (The New China). He took part in his first international exhibit in1948 and had his Swedish breakthrough in 1949 at the highly acclaimed Young Photographers exhibition at Rotohallen in Stockholm.
At the beginning of the 1960s, he began to focus more on film. He made over 50 documentaries for the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation and with the Swedish author Jan Myrdal he made two feature films, Myglaren and Hjälparen.
Over 100 black and white photographs from 1949 to 1970, Rune Hassner’s most productive period, are included in the exhibit. It also includes the TV series Bilder för miljoner (Photos for millions were also produced for BBC), the precursor to the book and Bilden som vapen (Photographs as Weapons), which looks at the history of photography with an emphasis on mass-produced images.
He was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy Honoris Causa by the Department of Art at Göteborg University in 1997, the first of its kind in Sweden, for his work with the history of photography. The Swedish Photography History Association named him the Investigative Photographer of the Century in 1999.
Hassner’s last big project was the reworking of Bilder för miljoner. Just before his death in July 2003, he finished the new version of the manuscript, which he entitled Bild + press 1900-2000 (Photography + Press 1900-2000). The book is scheduled for publication in 2004.
Events will take place in collaboration with the Department of Culture and Media at Umeå University, which is starting an academic programme on documentary photography.
The exhibition is produced by the Hasselblads Center in Gothenburg and Birgitta Forsell.