History In Focus

People, Politics, and Pivotal Moments in Central and Eastern Europe through the Lens of Chris Niedenthal

OCTOBER 20, 2024
3:30 P.M. – 6:00 P.M.

Presentation and Q&A with Chris Niedenthal

Reception designed and provided by Apolonia Catering

Location: Round Rock Public Library
200 E Liberty Ave, Round Rock, TX 78664

The theme of this project links humanities, arts and media! We are bringing to Austin a recipient of the prestigious World Press Photo Award, photojournalist Chris Niedenthal, along with the exhibition of some of his most iconic works.

He is admired for taking some of the most captivating images of life behind the Iron Curtain. His pictures tell the story of the fall of communism and are visual chronicles of social and political changes in Central and Eastern Europe. His photographs have been featured on the covers of leading publications like Newsweek and Time and published in Der Spiegel, Forbes Stern, Geo, and Paris Match. His recent work documents the refugee crisis on the Polish-Ukrainian border.

Last year, a huge retrospective of Niedenthal’s work was held in Warsaw and visited by over 150,000 people. We plan to bring a subset of this exhibition to Austin and believe it will attract everyone interested in history, journalism, photography, social and political change, and many other topics.

About Chris Niedenthal

Niedenthal tells us that he is always most interested in capturing regular people’s emotions, gestures, and facial expressions. His photographs help historical events come alive.

He started working as a photographer when he was still a teenager. Born and raised in Great Britain, he came to Poland in 1973 and documented everyday life as well as key political events in the Soviet block countries like Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and the Soviet Union. He photographed Pope John Paul II’s two pilgrimages to Poland. In 1980, he and Michael Dobbs were the first foreign journalists to enter the Gdansk Shipyard during the strike that gave rise to the Solidarity movement.

He photographed world leaders such as Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin, John Paul II, and Lech Walesa. All of his works carry his signature focus on capturing emotions and personality.  He continues to work, capturing the Ukrainian refugee crisis and other current events in Poland and the region.

More about Chris Niedenthal:
A virtual tour of 2023 Niedenthal’s extensive retrospective exhibit in Warsaw, Poland: https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=FoaSeTtoKno

He documented the period of martial law imposed by the Polish communist government in December 1981. His most famous photograph shows a SKOT armored personnel carrier standing in front of the Moscow cinema in Warsaw, with a poster announcing a screening of the film Apocalypse Now by Francis Ford Coppola. This photograph became iconic during the period of martial law. Photos from Warsaw by Niedenthal were the first to show this period outside of Poland.

Niedenthal is famous for his photographs capturing the fall of the Berlin Wall – a symbol of the end of communism in Europe. https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/declassified_141779.htm– The year 2024 marks the 35th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, making the timing for our exhibition especially fitting.


Consulate General of the Republic of Poland logo
Apolonia catering logo


We are grateful to everyone who is working with us in any capacity to support this project, especially Dr. Mary Neuburger, Associate Dean Steve Hoelscher, Dr. Margaret Menninger, Dr. Valentina Glajar, Dr. Jim Mazurkiewicz, curator Anna Brzezinska, Ms. Julia Libera, Ms. Asia Gonczar, Ms. Kate Voinova, Mr. Nathan Silverstein, the wonderful staff at the Round Rock Public Library, and more.