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Accidental photographer Arnold Odermatt dies aged 96

Former policeman Arnold Odermatt, a pioneer of police photography, has died at his home in Stans, central Switzerland. He was 96.

This content was published on June 22, 2021 - 09:00
The photographer and former policeman Arnold Odermatt has died at the age of 96. Here he was photographed in his home canton of Nidwalden in 1993. (archive picture) Keystone / Str

As an officer in canton Nidwalden's police force, Odermatt introduced taking pictures as a means of documenting accidents and as evidence in court. One of his most famous images shows a VW Beetle that went off the road and landed in Lake Lucerne in 1965.

At the start of the 1990s his filmmaker son Urs stumbled across tens of thousands of his father's photographs in the attic and, recognising their artistic merit, organised an exhibition that gained public and artistic acclaim. 

Odermatt became an overnight sensation at the age of 76 when curator Harald Szeemann discovered his photographs and showed them at the Venice Biennale. 

After his works went on show at the Biennale, other exhibitions went on tour around the world. His photos were also published in the book "Karambolage"External link.

In 2013 Odermatt's photographs were put on display for the first time in his home canton with the exhibition "The Village as a World".

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