In 1958, Zürich photographer Karlheinz Weinberger first captured the likeness of Halbstarke (rebel) Jimmy Oechslin, an artistic moment which marks the genesis of this collection of images focused on young Swiss teenagers. That particular photographic encounter triggered Weinberger’s life-long fascination with outsiders and nonconformists in the otherwise staid environment of Switzerland. The photographs presented in this first of several volumes about his work offer a rare glimpse into a bygone world that seems almost cute and quaint from a contemporary perspective, but make no mistake: just dressing in jeans, sporting a beehive hairdo and hanging chains around one’s neck was a statement as loud as blasting music by Buddy Holly or Jerry Lee Lewis on a normally quiet Swiss Sunday afternoon in that era.
Weinberger’s work was discovered by the art scene shortly before his death in 2006, and his artistic trove revealed tens of thousands of prints, slides and negatives that have been collected, archived, numbered and indexed over the course of the last decade. Many neverbefore seen images were discovered during this process, and thus the idea to publish thematic volumes with a single theme was inspired with a layout that takes its cue from the "Illustrierten" of the era, the glossy entertainment magazines with large photo spreads. With Halbstarke as Volume #1, Sturm & Drang publishers will follow with more releases that cover topics such as sports, tattoos and insignias, his travels to the South of Italy, and the extensive work he did with biker gangs and rockers in the 1970s and 80s.
Born in Zurich 1921, Karlheinz Weinberger was a self taught photographer best known for his portraits encapsulating the punk youth subculture in the late 1950s and early 1960s, continuing on to photograph Hells Angels and other characters pushing societal norms.