The Comets: on the occasion of Jack Metzger’s 100th birthday

The second photographer in our series about the players of Comet is Jack Metzger. He was born in Lucerne on 7.10.1918, so he could celebrate his hundredth birthday on Sunday.

Metzger completed an apprenticeship as reproduction photographer with Conzett and Huber in Zurich. From 1944 he worked as a photo reporter at the agency ATP Bilderdienst. Together with Björn Eric Lindroos and Hans Gerber he founded the photo agency Comet Photo AG in Zurich in 1952. His pictures have been published in the magazines Sie und Er and Schweizer Illustrierte among others. From 1967 to 1985 Metzger was also an important photographer for the Tages-Anzeiger and from 1985 to 1988 for the Schweizer Familie.

In the early days of Comet he created several self-portraits with the poetic title “Die Augen der Welt=Fotoreporter” (The Eyes of the World=Photo Reporter). Apart from this self-ironic series, there are quite a few snapshots of Metzger himself taken during holidays, and some test shots on which he photographed himself.

Die Augen der Welt = Photoreporter

Comet Photo AG: “Die Augen der Welt=Fotoreporter”: Björn Eric Lindroos and Jack Metzger at work on the Lindenhof, Zurich, 1952 (Com_M01-1238-0029)

 Die Augen der Welt = Photoreporter

Comet Photo AG: “Die Augen der Welt=Fotoreporter”: Jack Metzger in a pensive pose, Zurich 1952 (Com_M01-1238-05)

Jack Metzger repeatedly completed assignments abroad for Comet, from which he brought extensive reports. His documentation of the Hungarian uprising of 1956 made him well known.

Jack Metzger and Maximiliam Teicher: Report on the Hungarian Uprising, Schweizer Illustrierte Zeitung, 5.11.1956, page 5

Further foreign assignments took him to Japan (1957), Spain and Portugal (1958, 1965), the Congo (1957), Italy (1958, 1960), Southeast Asia (Hong Kong, Bangkok, 1958), Greece and Turkey (1955, 1959, 1966), South Africa (1959), Ireland (1964), USA and Canada (1964, 1967), the Netherlands (1965) and England (1966). Several of his concise pictures adorned the front pages of Sie und Er and Schweizer Illustrierte Zeitung.

Jack Metzger: Stephanie Glaser, cover of Sie und Er, December 15, 1955

Contemporaries of Jack Metzger say that he was well aware of his outstanding abilities as a photographer. In addition, he was often a bit grumpy. Some people he didn’t like and he let them know that, too.

Spanien-Reise, Mallorca

Comet Photo AG: Jack Metzger on holiday in Mallorca, 1958 (Com_L07-0093-0015-0012)

Griechenland, Rhodos

Comet Photo AG: Jack Metzger on Rhodos, September 1959 (Com_L08-0200-0011-0002)

Comet Photo AG: Jack Metzger at a New Year’s Eve party at he home of Björn Eric Lindroos in Horgen, (bottom right: Hans Gerber), 1959 (Com_L08-0204-0003-0003)

Testaufnahmen mit Panon-Widelux

Comet Photo AG: Jack Metzger in the office, test shot with Panon-Widelux, 1962 (Com_L11-0084-0001-0001)

Jack Metzger died on August 18, 1999. Publicist Martin Schaub describes Metzger as an “old master” among press photographers and counts him among those photographers who have succeeded in “… repeatedly finding and maintaining their handwriting in relative peace” (p. 244). One can illustrate this calm mastery with the following picture from the same photo book:

Jack_Metzger_5329c1099b_o

Jack Metzger: Präsident Eisenhower in Geneva with Federal Council Max Petitpierre, 1955 (S. 166)

 

References:

Martin Schaub: “Pressefotografie nach 1945” in: Schweizerische Stiftung für Photographie (Hrsg.): Photographie in der Schweiz von 1840 bis heute. Bern: Benteli Verlag, 1992 (p. 221-246).

Entry Jack Metzger on foto.ch

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