Handstand, by Jürgen Schadeberg, is one of those photographs which are dedicated entirely to the present moment, but also transcend that moment with the sheer force of their symbolism. A young man is balancing dangerously on the balustrade of Hamburg’s “Michel” church tower, slick with rain, and below him is a sea of houses with wartime bomb craters still visible in 1948.
Schadeberg took the photograph when he was only seventeen. The high-spirited acrobat was Hans Prignitz, a friend of Schadeberg’s who toured through Europe as a trapeze artist with his brother. For a split second, the balancing act between youthful exuberance and joie de vivre wrings a moment of lightness from history – before gravity pulls the acrobat back into the dejection of post-war Germany. – LiveAuctioneers.com
This copy of the photo sold for more than $3,000 at an auction in Vienna, Austria, in 2014.