© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Peter Keetman, German (Wuppertal-Elberfeld, Germany 1916 - 2005 Marquartstein, Germany)
Front Fenders (Volkswagen Factory)
Other Titles
Original Language Title: Vordere Kotflügel (Volkswagenwerk)
Title: Front fenders as mounting parts in front of the assembly stand in hall 2, from the series "one week at the Volkswagen Factory," Wolfsburg 1953
Original Language Title: Kotflügel vorn als Anbauteile vor dem Aufbaubock im Rohbau Halle 2, aus der Serie "eine Woche im Volkswagenwerk", Wolfsburg 1953
Work Type
Physical Descriptions
Gelatin silver print
Gelatin silver print
image: 23.1 x 17.2 cm (9 1/8 x 6 3/4 in.)
sheet: 23.5 x 17.7 cm (9 1/4 x 6 15/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: on verso in graphite at u.r.: Peter Keetman / 1953
  • inscription: on verso at u.r., graphite, handwritten: 6/1337
  • inscription: on verso at u.r., graphite, handwritten: 1337
  • stamp: on verso at u.r., black ink, German: FOTO UND COPYRIGHT / PETER KEETMAN / (13b) BREITBRUNN / AM CHIEMSEE. TEL. 305
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Purchase through the generosity of the Cultural Council in the Federation of German Industry
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art
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vintage print

Label Text: Inventur—Art in Germany, 1943–55 , written 2018
In 1953, Keetman photographed One Week at the Volkswagen Factory, a series documenting the process of automobile manufacture at the company’s plant in Wolfsburg. In the selection shown here, car parts are represented in close-up as pure forms arranged in nested stacks and dynamic patterns, revealing his association with the postwar “subjective photography” movement. Keetman’s is a portrait of his own artistic labor as well as the rote labor of factory workers, whose individual presence is palpable in the surface marks and serial numbers on the auto parts. His attention to the industrial world attempts to move beyond the stigma of Nazi ideology associated with Volkswagen, which Hitler famously proclaimed as the automobile of the German masses. Instead, the gleaming surfaces in Keetman’s images suggest glimmers of hope for the Federal Republic by representing the postwar success of Volkswagen as a symbol of the so-called West German economic miracle.

Publication History

Peter Nisbet and Joseph Koerner, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, ed. Peter Nisbet, Harvard University Art Museums and Scala Publishers Ltd. (Cambridge, MA and London, England, 2007), p. 66

Lynette Roth and Ilka Voermann, Inventur—Art in Germany, 1943–55, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2018), pp. 355-356, 359, cat. no. 50.4, ill. (b/w)

Exhibition History

A Decade of Collecting: Recent Acquisitions from the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Central and Northern Art and Design from 1880 to the Present, Harvard University Art Museums, Busch-Reisinger Museum, 04/19/2000 - 07/09/2000

Inventur—Art in Germany, 1943–55, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/09/2018 - 06/03/2018

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art at am_moderncontemporary@harvard.edu