The legacy of Wolfgang Sievers is his work left to boost human rights causes.
Here are 51 photographs, among those bequested to Julian Burnside QC, being sold in aid of Liberty Victoria and other human rights organisations.
A refugee from Nazism in Germany, Sievers’s work after the war was shaped by the Bauhaus ethos and philosophy of the New Objectivity learnt in Berlin. He melded this with a socialist belief in the inherent dignity of labour, creating brilliant theatrical photographs, often by capturing industrial machinery at night, isolating details with artificial light and posing workers for heightened effect.
Sievers first studied archaeology and learnt photography to illustrate his art professor father’s books. He was unable to continue his studies due to Nazi political oppression, and tried to earn a living as a freelance photographer in Portugal. Once in Melbourne, and having served in the war, he set up a new studio, holding a joint exhibition with Helmut Newton of photography for fashion, business and industry in 1953. His influence on industrial photography in Australia cannot be overstated.
Image: © Wolfgang Sievers, Cement Mill Construction at Vickers Ruwolt, 1970, mounted black and white print, 370 x 280mm. Courtesy Liberty Victoria.