Mensch in der Gruppe (Man in the Group)

For Joachim Giesel, the intensive examination of groups of people and their social dynamics began in the 1970s. He was inspired by the assignment to photograph the NDR orchestra. Since then, the subject has not let go of the photographer.  

The photo series Mensch in der Gruppe (Man in a Group) was exhibited, among other places, in 1976 at the gallery of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Photographie (DGPh) in Cologne. Giesel always photographed the portrayed groups in their natural surroundings and dispensed with any direction. Thus, in front of the photographer’s lens, the people show themselves as they would like to be portrayed and seen in their surroundings. The poses express astonishingly honest characters and traits.  “Hierarchies, dependencies, understandings of roles, and self-consciousness of individuals in a group context become visible in these sociologically engaged photographs” (Tils 1976, o. S.), said Dirk Tils about Giesel’s photography.  

Giesel appreciated the work of fellow American professional Neal Slavin and, as part of his work as curator of the spectrum Photogalerie, brought his work to Hanover as early as the 1970s. Like Giesel, Slavin was interested in man as a public person in the context of associations and organizations also in contrast to his private nature. One shot by Slavin, for example, shows the Channel Swimming Association, a group of amateur swimmers posing in tight swimming caps and goggles on the pebble beach at Dover in southern England – a motif that Giese also captured photographically in a similar way.  

In 1979, as part of the exhibition Fotografie 1919-1979. Made in Germany. Die GDL-Fotografen (Photography 1919-1979. Made in Germany. The GDL Photographers) acquired 12 of Giesel’s group portraits. In 2009, the photograph of a nudist group was part of a major exhibition Nude Visions. 150 Jahre Körperbilder in der Fotografie (Nude Visions. 150 Years of Nude Photography), which also featured works by Helmut Newton.


1976 Köln, Galerie der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Photographie: Der Mensch in der Gruppe

1976 Hamburg, Foto-Galerie der Landesbildstelle: Zur Schau gestellt

1979 München, Stadtmuseum: Fotografie 1919-1979. Made in Germany. Die GDL-Fotografen (Gruppenausstellung)

1987 Eislingen, Kunstverein: Joachim Giesel. Grenzlandschaften und Menschengruppen

2004 Hannover, Handwerksform: Der Fotograf Joachim Giesel: Fünf fotografische Serien

2009 München, Stadtmuseum: Nude Visions. 150 Jahre Körperbilder in der Fotografie (Gruppenausstellung)

2022 Hannover, Sprengel Museum: Vom Beginnen. 50 Jahre spectrum Photogalerie (Gruppenausstellung)

Boje, Walter (1980): Fotografie 1919-1979. Made in Germany. Die GDL – Fotografen. Frankfurt am Main: Umschau.

Kubal, Wolfgang (2004): Joachim Giesel: Fünf Fotografische Serien. In: Photo Presse (46), S. 17.

o.A. (o.J.): Der Mensch als Individuum. Joachim Giesel und Prof. Adolf Clemens zeigen aktuelle Fotografien in der DGPh-Galerie in Köln (15.10 bis 6.11.1976). In: [unbekannte Zeitschrift], S. 56.

Pohlmann, Ulrich (Hg.) (2009): Nude visions. 150 Jahre Körperbilder in der Fotografie. Heidelberg: Kehrer.

Tils, Dirk (1976): Gruppenbild mit Schlachtern. Fotoausstellung Joachim Giesel in Köln. In: [unbestimmte Tageszeitung aus Hannover], 04.11.1976, o.S.

Wilp, Sabine (2004): Niemals allein. Der Mensch in der Gruppe. In: Handwerksform Hannover (Hg.): Der Fotograf Joachim Giesel. Fünf fotografische Serien. Hannover: Selbstverlag, S. 11–15.