In Memoriam Viggo Rivad 1922-2016 (in English)


Viggo Rivad – born July 3, 1922, died February 8, 2016

By Jan Oberg

Viggo Rivad, grand old man of Danish photography, exhibited for the first time in 1946 and has been influential in his field over almost 7 decades.

He has given Denmark a lot of classical photo series like A Goodbye, Lauritz, Koefod’s School and B&W Teglholmen, several photo books from around the world, public art installations such as at Copenhagen Kastrup Airport and the Danish Railways (DSB); 40,000 negatives donated to the Royal National Library and collections of photos at the Museum of Photographic Art in Odense. His retrospective exhibition there in 2012 counted 180 master works.

Rivad’s official homepageis here.

Rivad was what I would call a humanist photographer or people photographer.

With deep respect for his subjects he gave dignity to the under-privileged, the old and the marginalised people. He would get to know them before he pulled out his camera, even moved in with them and made friends like he did at Kofoed’s School (a centre for people without work, vulnerable citizens and others at the bottom of society) and the occupiers’ movement (BZ) in the 1970s.

He was the photographic story-teller par exellence – and great at talking about his works, their background, his intentions and how he’d created them.

But he wasn’t interested in talking about himself. Modesty is a catchword of high relevance to describe Viggo Rivad – who never wanted to earn his living by photography but served as a taxi driver for decades in Copenhagen, the city he was born in, lived in all his life, photographed and loved. A bit like Saul Leiter. Continue reading In Memoriam Viggo Rivad 1922-2016 (in English)

Homepage for Viggo Rivad

Viggo Rivad is the grand old man of photography in Denmark. He turned 90 in July 2012 and is still going strong – although he says that he has now done his duty when it comes to taking pictures. That is true. He has donated about 40,000 to the Photography Museum in Odense and to the National Library.

Viggo is my mentor. We met in 1983 when we were both members of a Danish delegation going to China, arranged by the China-Denmark Friendship Association. I had just bought my first SLR – Single-Lens Reflex – Cannon camera and in Tokyo, on the way to Beijing – I added an advanced zoom lens. He taught me a lot of “tricks” during that trip and his sense of humour became legendary in the group. We met after that trip too, now and then but not that often.


Viggo Rivad 2009                             © Jan Oberg 2009

Photographers are usually not that happy about being photographed. Viggo was no exception, but in 2007 he accepted that I took a few shots of him in his small flat in Copenhagen where he had lived for decades. I felt it was an honour, an act of friendship – the feeling that I was accepted not only as me but also as someone who could take photos, someone he trusted.

Before I decided to set up my own studio and become more serious about photography, I consulted with many and sought their advice. I avoided some mistakes, but not all – perhaps fortunately. After having opened the studio in May 2009, the 2nd exhibition I arranged was with a selection of Viggo Rivad’s classical pictures – both black-and-white (which he is most known for) but also colours (which he wants people to take into account too). I felt that his works should be my first “real” exhibition.

It was a lovely co-operation; Continue reading Homepage for Viggo Rivad