Gerhard Riebicke
Ways to Strength and Beauty

The photography of Gerhard Riebicke paved the way for the awakening of the Lebensreform movement in the early 20th century. The idealized depiction of health and beauty in conformity with nature expressed the new ideal perfectly. The pictures offered a contrast to the hopelessly alienated lifestyle people were facing all over the industrialized world. So the problems were the same back then and so were the ideas of change: the eco-movement, sexual liberation and the health granted by nature are no discoveries of the sixties counterculture, these ideas are deeply rooted in the European cultural history.

In addition to Riebicke’s pictures I found a very telling film from 1925: Ways to Strength and Beauty. It documents the emergence of gymnastics as popular sport, which marked a fundamental change in movement behavior and initiated the cult of the body. Which later was utilized for the irrational idolization of the body in the Third Reich.

Also check this previous post on Lebensreform.

Wege zu Kraft und Schönheit, Wilhelm Prager, 1925