Presumably there is no photograph which captures the essence of an amusement park – that amalgamation of longing and the tepid taste of disappointment which brings the crowds out to the fairgrounds time and again – as pointedly as the present image by Franz Hubmann, taken at Vienna’s Volksprater.
Hubmann has been called the Austrian Henri Cartier-Bresson, but of course he was a master photographer in his own right, the “incorruptible chronicler of the essential and the supposedly inessential,” as André Heller once called him. His oeuvre includes portraits of the leading intellectual lights of his times, from Adorno to Karajan and Warhol, as well as portraits of old New York and the Hamburg port district; however, he is probably best known as a photographic observer of Vienna’s urban life.
The Prater has always been a place of dreams, and each of the figures with whom Hubmann stood at the shooting gallery in 1957, his Leica M3 poised, is probably dreaming of something else. In the foreground, the woman is clearly dreaming herself away to a different place; the man aiming the rifle is dreaming of a bull’s eye; the elderly lady in the apron dress might be dreaming that her shoulder, which she is massaging with one hand, would stop hurting. The dreams of the frog painted on the wagon are obvious from his beady eyes, and the pin-up girl, object of his desire, is dreaming – of what, one may wonder? blog.burnedshoes
All images © Franz Hubmann