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Photographer Caj Bremer
19.02.2010 - 16.05.2010


Photographer Caj Bremer's (b. 1929) retrospective exhibition presents his work since the 1950s. The exhibition is curated by Riitta Raatikainen.

Over 150 photographs are exhibited, the oldest dating back to the early 1950s and the latest from last year. The photography thus spans over half a century and includes journalistic photographs, family photographs and studies of light and nature. Through these themes the exhibition also traces the development of Finnish society and media.

Caj Bremer learned the skills of his trade while working as an assistant in a photo studio, and in 1952 he became a photographer for the Swedish-language newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet. In 1954, after spending a summer working for Svenska Dagbladet in Stockholm, he joined the Finnish picture agency Lehtikuva. In 1957 he joined Viikkosanomat, a weekly news magazine based on major American and European titles that published major reportages from home and abroad. These reportages played an important role in creating the world view of readers in an era when television was taking only its first steps as a source of daily news.  

Viikkosanomat ceased publication in 1975, by which time Bremer had already joined the Finnish daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. He also photographed fashion and design for local salons and the women’s magazine Me Naiset. In later years he also served as an art professor.

At the start of his career Caj Bremer was attracted to the tradition of humanistic photography. This trend was particularly popular in French photography as represented by the works of Henri Cartier-Bresson, for example, and it emphasised an interest in people and their immediate surroundings. Humanistic photography respects its subjects and often has a lyrical beauty despite the often powerful presence of everyday realities.

Bremer has a precise and insightful eye. He has an unfailing ability to control the light and composition in rapidly changing conditions. He is able to extract the essential into a seemingly simple image often characterised by a subtle sense of humour.

Indeed, it is this humour that separates Bremer’s photography from the mainstream. The overriding sense of pathos in traditional Finnish photography never found a home in Bremer’s output; on the contrary, he is always able to capture joy and good-natured smiles in his photographs.  

With his exceptional social skills, Bremer has also always been able to control the situation, whether he is exploring dark alleys on the outskirts of town or attending official functions with the political elite. The public figures in his photographs appear to be as approachable as ordinary people in their own. 

In connection to this exhibition there is also a book published by Musta Taide.