Jürgen Nagel was born in 1942 in Berlin. In 1958 he started his apprenticeship in the field of photochemistry at the VEB Fotochemische Werke Berlin. Yet his application for chemistry studies was denied. Instead 1961 he started his professional training in the field of optics and photo-techniques in West Berlin (Fachschule für Optik und Fototechnik). Following the construction of the Berlin Wall, he dropped off his studies in West Berlin and took on various jobs, among which also as a photographer in a portraits atelier from the Production Association for Film and Image in Berlin (Produktionsgesnossenschaft für Film und Bild).
Nagel started in 1968 an apprentice position as a photographer following to which he acquired the photography master title in 1970. During this period he sent his works to various publications and acquired the freelance status already in 1967. In 1976 he graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Leipzig (Hochschule für Graphik und Buchkunst), at the department for photo-graphics.
He joined the Union of Artists of the GDR in 1977 triggered by the motivation to change the Union from within. He also undertook several teaching positions for photography, among which also with the Local Academy for Culture in Berlin (Bezirkskulturakademie Berlin) between 1987-1989. His classes were known for his critical positions, following to which he was requested to dismiss his classes and the position. His opposition to these requests eventually did not have any repercussions on him.
Since 1967 he worked as freelance photographer for various fairs, exhibitions, cultural institutions and publishing houses, a position he carried out also after the German reunification. He was primordially interested in the artistic photography and less in photo-journalism. Occasionally he was also writing literature. Due to his literary activity, he became a subject of surveillance in 1979, yet his files have been closed in 1981. Nagel succeeded to publish not only his photo documentation but also his literary works in Western Germany together with Frankfurter Rundschau and Stattbuch-Verlag Berlin (West).
He actively contributed to the protest actions during 1989, together with the Neues Forum which he eventually also captured with his camera. Following the German reunification, he continued working as a photographer, enjoyed several scholarships and teaching position between 1993 and 1996 with the Volkshochschule Berlin-Friedrichshain. Yet according to the author without the harshness of the regime and the construction of the Berlin wall, he would have never reverted to photography. Photography and his literary activity were a medium to explore and express his own ideas and inner struggle, otherwise, he might have remained in the field of photo-technique.Since 1999 the photographer lives and works in Altlandsberg.
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- Berlin, Germany
Author(s) of this page
- Demeter, Laura