© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Peter Keetman, German (Wuppertal-Elberfeld, Germany 1916 - 2005 Marquartstein, Germany)
Sheet Metal Components for Transporters (Volkswagen Factory)
Other Titles
Original Language Title: Blechteile für Transporter (Volkswagenwerk)
Title: Drawn and folded sheet metal components for the transporter on transport cradle, from the series "one week at the Volkswagen Factory," Wolfsburg 1953
Original Language Title: Gezogene und abgekantete Blechteile des Transporters auf Transportgestell, aus der Serie "eine Woche im Volkswagenwerk", Wolfsburg 1953
Former Title: Floor Panel (Volkswagen Factory)
Former Title: Bodenbleche (Volkswagenwerk)
Work Type
Physical Descriptions
Gelatin silver print
Gelatin silver print
24 x 17.7 cm (9 7/16 x 6 15/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: on verso in graphite at u.r.: Peter Keetman
  • inscription: on verso at u.r., graphite, handwritten: 1276
  • inscription: on verso at u.r., graphite, handwritten: 1953
  • stamp: on verso at l.c., black ink: Auftr. Nr. _____ Reg. Nr. _____ // Titel (Name) _____ // Urheber: FOTOGRAF // PETER KEETMAN // BREITBRUNN/CHIEMSEE // MUELLERHOF // Veröffentlichung nur mit voller Namensnennung des Urhebers // gestattet. // Honorar und Belegexemplar an obige Adresse zu richten.
  • inscription: on verso at l.c., black ink, handwritten: S/1276 [on the line for "Reg. Nr."]
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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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

Lynette Roth and Ilka Voermann, Inventur—Art in Germany, 1943–55, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2018), pp. 354-356, cat. no. 50.1, ill. (b/w)

Exhibition History

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

This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator; it may be inaccurate or 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