Crawford House Publishing
Paul Wirz in New Guinea Photographs of the 1916-1953 expeditions

In the first half of this century the Swiss anthropologist and collector Paul Wirz (1892-1955) made several research trips to New Guinea, partly combined with journeys in the Malayan archipelago. His reputation as an anthropologist is based on his research in New Guinea and later on Bali. In the western part of New Guinea, now called Irian Jaya, he concentrated his work on the Marind-anim on the south-west coast; the region of Lake Sentani on the north coast and the Highlands (Western Dani); and in the eastern part, now Papua New Guinea, he worked in the Papuan Gulf region, the Highlands, and the Sepik area. His field trips, marking almost forty years of research work, were of different kinds and intensities, and were made in the context of changing theoretical backgrounds and the varying personal and professional aims of the anthropologist. But during all these visits, Paul Wirz used photography as his main technical medium, and took thousands of photographs. The main part of this photographic material is now in the Museum der Kulturen Basel, Switzerland. Another part of the material is with Wirzís family in Basel, several hundred prints are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and some are distributed among various other museums.

This book, on the one hand, gives a general idea of the New Guinea photography of Paul Wirz. On the other hand, it shows the exceptional nature of these photographs as rare visual records of past cultures. They form an important source for ethnographic research.

The bookís introduction provides an insight into the extraordinary life of Paul Wirz, his private and professional backgrounds that influenced his anthropological work and affected his photography.

The main part of the book is devoted to the presentation of photographs taken during Wirzís stays in New Guinea. Reflecting the conditions of his field work, this section concentrates on the Marind-anim, Lake Sentani and Papuan Gulf regions. The photographs are combined with statements from Wirz, or commentary from Andrea Schmidt, or both.

A selected bibliography of Wirzís publications concentrates on those that include photographs of his New Guinea journeys.


Andrea Schmidt








Portrait; hardcover; vi + 194 pages


285 x 240 mm



© Copyright 2022 Crawford House Publishing Australia