Karlheinz Weinberger (1921–2006) was a Swiss warehouse worker who picked up the camera as a weekend hobby. His work was discovered in the late 1990s by fashion- and art-world aficionados, thanks to its focus on a group of teenagers in early-’60s Zurich whose obsessions with Elvis Presley, James Dean and denim resulted in a florid subculture known as the halbstark, or “half-strong.” Teasing their hair into gravity-defying bouffants and pompadours, they retrofitted drainpipe jeans with machine bolts for fly enclosures and trimmed Levi’s jackets with barbarian fur. They also sported enormous, hand-forged belt buckles with images of their icons. While some of these rebels without a cause aged out of halbstark life, others continued, forming a Swiss chapter of the Hells Angels, with all of its attendant violence and criminal activity. These portraits capture the progression of their male subjects, growing more grizzled and hardened as the 1960s give way to the ’70s and ’80s.
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