Karlheinz Weinberger’s day job may have been relatively uneventful—working in a Siemen’s warehouse—but the photos he took in his spare time are anything but conformist.
Weinberger’s passion, and the focus of this book, is the rebel youth of 1950s and ’60s Switzerland, who channeled American rock-’n’-roll culture and made it their own with their rolled-up jeans and denim jackets, bouffant hairdos, striped T-shirts and customized belts boasting images of Elvis and James Dean. Weinberger’s lusty, free-spirited and self-confident portraits posit the defiant attitude of youth as a response to the conservative postwar era. Swiss Rebels also includes homoerotic images of rockers, bikers, construction workers and athletes, many of whom occupy positions outside of social norms. This publication is the first to present an overview of Weinberger’s provocative oeuvre.
Born in 1921, Karlheinz Weinberger was a Swiss photographer whose work predominantly explored outsider cultures. Between 1943 and 1967 Weinberger published photos of male workers, sportsmen and bikers in the gay magazine Der Kreis under the pseudonym of Jim, taken from Hanns Eisler’s song “The Ballad of Jim.” In the late ‘50s and early ‘60s he concentrated on Swiss rock-’n’-roll youth, whom he photographed with both tenderness and a hint of irony. Weinberger placed little emphasis on exhibiting his work; his first comprehensive show took place only in 2000, six years before his death.