21 May — 05 September, 2010

Lennart Nilsson

A Child is Born

I want to show what lies close to us, what everyone feel, in a new way. – Lennart Nilsson


In 1965 Lennart Nilsson (b. 1922), for the first time in our history, succeeded in photographing the human foetus from inside the womb. Lennart Nilsson’s experiments with electron microscopes, endoscopic cameras, in addition to other techniques provided him with the opportunity to create high-resolution images of the development of human life. Lennart Nilsson’s A Child is Born was a major breakthrough in medical photography.

one of LIFE magazine’s most important reportage

The work on what would later become A Child is Born began in 1953 and took Nilsson 12 years to complete. When LIFE magazine published a 16-page cover article of his photographs entitled, The Drama of Life Before Birth, the entire circulation of 8 million copies sold out in just a few days. The article is still considered to be one of LIFE magazine’s most important reportage along with the assassination of John F Kennedy and the moon landing.

In the same year that his photographs premiered in LIFE magazine, Nilsson published his book A Child is Born. The book was a success among expectant mothers and photography connoisseurs alike. Since then, it has been published in 5 editions in over 20 countries. The most recent edition was published in 2009. That same year, Lennart Nilsson was awarded the honorary title of Professor by the Swedish government, an award granted for an educational contribution of immense significance. At Fotografiska, 30 large-format photographs from Lennart Nilsson’s acclaimed series will be on exhibition, many of which have never been exhibited before.

16 Weeks, The Fetus’ Movements Are Stronger © Lennart Nilsson