This from Jürgen Raible, Managing Director at akg-images Berlin:
“Erich Lessing died on 28 August 2018 in Vienna at the age of 95 years. It’s been almost 30 years since I met Erich Lessing for the first time. Back then I had just started at akg-images and Erich Lessing was the first really great photographer who wanted to be represented by us. I do not know why and I did not really care as a new employee, but I spontaneously faxed him a fax after our first meeting saying that I wanted to be his personal contact at akg, knowing that this wouldn’t be an easy job. Erich Lessing could be very demanding at some point, and the next moment he was again the most charming in all Vienne. Over the decades, I have learned so much from him and have always been proud to be able to work so closely and confidently with him. At the beginning of this year, I was able to visit him one last time in Vienna.
My dear Erich, I already miss you.”
Erich Lessing (1923 – 2018)
akg-images have been representing Erich Lessing since the end of the 1980s, and we never get tired of his pictures. There is always something new to discover, be it in his incomparable way of photographing a Greek vase or suddenly noticing small details in his reportage photos. Erich Lessing is rightly famous for his life’s work and was honoured with many prizes and awards. His charismatic personality will forever be remembered by anyone who has ever met him. Our dear Erich died on the 28th of August 2018 in Vienna.
Born in 1923 into a Jewish family in Vienna, the son of a dentist and a concert pianist, Erich Lessing was forced to emigrate to Palestine in 1939 following Nazi persecution. In Haifa, after studying radio technology, he worked in various jobs at Kibbutz, then, to support himself, did odd jobs as a taxi driver and beach photographer before being recruited as a photographer by the British army.
He returned to Austria until 1947 and became a photojournalist for the Associated Press. In 1951, Erich Lessing joined the agency Magnum and worked for different magazines like “Life” or “Paris-Match”. Covering mainly political events in the countries of Eastern Europe, his spectacular report on the Hungarian Revolution earned him the “American Editors Award”, a prestigious award in this profession.
As well as being a successful photojournalist, he spent a lifetime photographing works of art and historical locations. The Lessing Photo Archive was founded in 1996 and a new photo gallery, featuring exhibitions and vintage prints, opened in Vienna in 2012.
Erich Lessing was married to the Time magazine journalist Traudl Lessing and had three children, four grandchildren, and one great-grandson.
His vast photographic collection comprises over 25,000 colour images, covering reportage, fine arts, archaeology, religion and architecture, and is available for license via akg-images.
• View Erich’s images on akg images
• A memorial service for Erich will be at Neustift am Walde0th cemetery 10 September 2018 at 11:00 a.m.
Friedhof Neustift am Walde,
Pötzleinsdorfer Höhe 2 / Tor 3 / Halle 2, 1180 Wien.
The interment will take place a week later and will be attended by his family only.