Karlheinz Weinberger | Jeans


“Mr. Weinberger’s subjects, mostly young men in the ‘50s and ‘60s, interpreted American style in ways both fascinating and bizarre.” -New York Times

“Mixing American pop culture fashion with their own over-the-top accents, the ‘Halbstarke’ youth made giant belt buckles and DIY denim look good, in a way only charming delinquents can (imagine Elvis meets Brokeback Mountain, with an eccentric Euro edge).” -W Magazine

An unsung pioneer of vernacular photography since the Fifties, Weinberger captured a young generation of Swiss rebels who were greatly influenced by American culture. For most of his adult life, Karlheinz Weinberger (1921-2006) worked in the warehouse department of the Siemens-Albis factory in Zurich. In his free time, he escaped his job’s monotony by immersing himself in photography. The images in this publication—a facsimile of a self-designed portfolio that Weinberger made in the mid-1950s—showcase the evolving documentary style that would define much of Weinberger’s later work. “Jeans” focuses on individual portraiture and his fascination for men in blue jeans, an article of clothing whose scarcity in post-war Switzerland and close association with American pop stars implied more than just a fashion statement. Blue jeans were a badge of status, differentiation and rebellion for working class Swiss boys and girls dissatisfied with the conservative climate of the day.

Hardcover portfolio
55 pages, 54 b/w images
Published by Swiss Institute / Contemporary Art, New York; Presentation House Gallery, Vancouver; Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel

Available now!