top of page

About Karl

KARL SPIESS. 1891–1945

The last works of German Photographer Karl Spiess (in German spelled Spieß) were to be disposed of in a dump in East Germany. 220 of his glass negatives were saved by photographers Dietmar and Marga Riemann. The negatives demonstrate his skill as a photographer and capture a complicated moment of time often forgotten. There is now a complete book outlining his life as a photographer and citizen of Germany in the 1920s to 1945. The National Gallery of Canada and Canadian Photography Institute accepted a donation of these materials in 2019 to preserve them for Canadians and future researchers.

Two self-portraits of the photographer Karl Spiess

The Book

The Book

On April 14th, 2018 the Karl Spiess book was launched in Canada. Author Dietmar Riemann was in attendance from Germany. Please see the official invitation for details or our facebook page. Selected prints and copies of the book are available for sale at,,, and the National Gallery Bookstore.

Dietmar completed a book tour in Germany.

Here is the audio from an interview:

Grandson Carl Spiess was interviewed

in Canada on the radio. Here is that audio:

                                                                 Video interviews with the Spiess Family

Dietmar Riemann re Karl Spiess - MDR Radio Germany
00:00 / 00:00
Karl Spiess radio interview - Howl on CIUT FM
00:00 / 00:00
Glass Negatives

Glass Negatives

The archive consists of 220 13x18cm glass negatives. Here are a few images:

Quotes and reviews

Quotes and Reviews

“A compelling body of previously unknown work from the same era and style as August Sander. Karl Spiess offers masterful glimpses into a bygone era and its people -- a treasure saved from destruction.” Edward Burtynsky


The Globe and Mail published a review of the Karl Spiess book in April 2018.

In May 2018 The National Gallery of Canada featured a Karl Spiess image in the introduction of their comprehensive exhibition book "The Extended Moment - 50 years of collecting photographs"



  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Wikipedia logo

Success! Message received.

bottom of page