Posts Tagged ‘1920s avant-garde photography

07
Aug
22

Exhibition: ‘Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander’ at Centre Pompidou, Paris

Exhibition dates: 11th May – 5th September 2022

 

Ludwig Meidner (German, 1884-1966) 'Selfportrait' 1913 (installation view)

 

Ludwig Meidner (German, 1884-1966)
Selfportrait (installation view)
1913
Oil on canvas
Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

 

A portent of things to come…

In Germany, the years 1919-1933 were an extraordinary period of turbulence, emancipation, depravation and creativity. After the humiliation of defeat at the end of the First World War, revolution swept Germany which led to the establishment of democracy through the Weimar Republic, which was born out of the struggle for a new social order and political system.

The flowering of German Expressionism (modern art labelled by Hitler Entartete Kunst or “Degenerate Art” in the 1920s) in painting and sculpture took place under the Weimar Republic of the 1920s and the country emerged as a leading centre of the avant-garde. This exhibition focuses on the art and culture of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity), a style which was a challenge to Expressionism and which advocated a return to realism and social commentary in art. “As its name suggests, it offered a return to unsentimental reality and a focus on the objective world, as opposed to the more abstract, romantic, or idealistic tendencies of Expressionism.”1

This multidisciplinary exhibition is structured into eight thematic sections corresponding to the groups and sociocultural categories created by August Sander in his seminal work Menschen des 20. Jahrhunderts (People of the 20th century), “intended, as he stated, to be “a physiognomic image of an age,” and a catalogue of “all the characteristics of the universally human.””2 In other words, Sander focused more on “archetypes” than on individuals, using his photographs to classify groups of people, to create a taxonomic ordering of society. At the time physiognomy (the art of discovering temperament and character from outward appearance) – today classified as a pseudoscience but at the time regarded as a genuine science – used photography to classify individuals and groups, notably used by the Nazis to classify Untermensch, that is, “non-Aryan “inferior people” notably Jews, Roma, and Slavs (Poles, Serbs, Ukrainians, and Russians). The term was also applied to Mixed race and Black people. Jewish, Polish and Romani people, along with the physically and mentally disabled, as well as homosexuals and political dissidents were to be exterminated in the Holocaust.” (Wikipedia)

“[Johannes] Molzahn, [László] Moholy-Nagy and others anticipated photography’s eventual achievement of a universally accessible and highly efficient form of communication. Germany’s immediate future did not fulfil such emancipatory predictions. By the end of the Weimar Republic, it was clear that one of photography’s most significant achievements was repackaging physiognomy, the ancient practice of identifying and classifying people according to racial and ethnic type, as a modern visual language… Declarations of photography as a new universal language and its revival of physiognomic looking went hand in hand with the racialized and metaphysical pursuits of National Socialist photography. This continuity points to uncomfortable connections between Weimar modernism and the fascist ideology of totalitarian regimes. As Eric Kurlander points out … scholars acknowledge that National-Socialist-era culture developed from – rather than broke with – Weimar aesthetic traditions.”3

.
The Weimar Republic and its culture is full of contradictions. On the one hand you have changes in gender norms, such as the open appearance of homosexuality, the emergence of the emancipated female, the establishment of Magnus Hirschfeld’s Scientific-Humanitarian Committee and World League for Sexual Reform which carried out “the first advocacy for homosexual and transgender rights”, and the disclosed existence of people such as Lili Elbe, who was a Danish painter and transgender woman, and among the early recipients of sex reassignment surgery. At the time of Elbe’s last surgery, her case was already a sensation in newspapers of Denmark and Germany. “Artists are also interested in changes in gender norms, like August Sander, who photographs “La femme” in Menschen des 20. Jahrhunderts. With an almost sociological eye, they construct a typology of the emancipated Neue Frau (New Woman): Bubikopf (short variant of the bob cut), cigarette, wearing of a shirt or even a tie become recurring attributes in the female portraits of the time.” (Text from the exhibition)

On the other hand you have male artists whose depiction of women – and not just the emancipated female – is highly misogynistic. Women are seen as a threat to men … and in many art works from this period, women’s bodies are mutilated, decapitated and hung. These art works attest to the misogyny of many male artists,4 to the desire of men to control women, to see them as fantasies (to be disfigured or killed), or to see them as unfit for purpose.

For example, Rudolf Schlichter’s smiling / grimacing Mutilated proletarian woman (1922-1923) who is missing a hand and half her forearm whilst still holding a child (which can just be seen in an installation image below), presages against her ability to be a “good” mother; Schlichter’s Der Künstler mit zwei erhängten Frauen (The Artist with Two Hanged Women) (1924) focuses on private fantasies of sexualised murder which was a recurrent theme within this period and the public interest in the rise of suicide; Otto Dix’s group of Lustmord (Sex Murder) paintings (one of which is pictured below) “attest to the anxieties of ’emasculated’, defeated men toward newly independent women. Such depraved fantasies of control, accomplished not by gunshots but gashes, were exploited and sensationalized in the rightwing press”5; and Heinrich Maria Davringhausen’s The Dreamer (1919, below) “is an especially surreal example: a grey-faced figure sits at a table, staring out; a bloody straight razor lays by his hand, while in the corner is a woman with her throat cut; above, the ceiling phases into a beach.”6

“The post-war period saw an emancipation of women, which influenced fashion towards masculinity: short hair, shirt, tie and flat chest. you see women active in all the technical fields previously reserved for male heroes. But… these are exceptions reserved for a certain urban high society because the traditional woman remains KKK (Kirchen, Küchen, Kinders: church, kitchen, children).

It is also the time of a liberation of morals, where Jeanne Mammen draws lesbian encounters… and Christian Schad of boys lovingly entwined… But, an opposite current is born towards a biological determinism of homosexuality, artists make violent reminders of the norm and Rudolf Schlichter, Karl Hubbuch or Otto Dix, for example, multiply the representations of sexual crimes by patients: the emancipated female is seen as a threat.”7

.
The interwar German interregnum was a period of incredible sensitivity and brutality at one and the same time. It was a period of disease (Spanish Flu), disfigurement (homecoming soldiers after the First World War), and economic depression and inflation (especially during the Great Depression of 1929). It was a period of the rise of the machine (machine gun, tank, aeroplane, total war). It saw the rise of aerodynamics, modernist architecture, graphic design, new typography, and photography (notably through the Bauhaus) as prolific forms of visual communication in which reading would be an obsolete skill. ‘”Stop reading! Look!” will be the motto in education,’ Molzahn wrote, ‘”Stop Reading! Look!” will be the guiding principle of daily newspapers’.”8 The period also saw the development of archetypes as socio-cultural norms, of the montage of “things” and their standardisation and rationalisation as utilities to be used (and abused).9

In Europe, the interwar period was one of the most wonderful eras of creativity the world has ever seen, the one to which I would most like to return if I had the possibility of going back in time. It was a period of transgression and experimentation, in which the new possibilities and new points of view opened up to the inquiring mind. The cabaret of life was in full flow in Europe in the interwar years: revolution and street battles, poverty and perversion, living for the moment… for tomorrow might never come, evidenced by the brutality a disillusioned society had witnessed during the First World War. The advances to social freedom and female emancipation which occurred during the period were only the scab that covered a gaping wound beneath, a wounding that would be brutally exposed anew during the repression, genocide and conflagration leading up to and during the Second World War. The depictions of life and death, of the i/rational, in the “objective” art of Neue Sachlichkeit were a portent of things to come…

Dr Marcus Bunyan

Word count: 1,235

 

Footnotes

  1. Anonymous text. “New Objectivity,” on the German Expressionism MoMA website Nd [Online] Cited 07/08/2022
  2. Anonymous text. “August Sander: People of the Twentieth Century. A Photographic Portrait of Germany,” press release on the Metropolitan Museum of Art website 2004 [Online] Cited 07/08/2022
  3. Pepper Stetler. “Photo Lessons: Teaching Physiognomy during the Weimar Republic,” in Christopher Webster (ed.,). Photography in the Third Reich, Open Book Publishers, 2021, p. 15-28 [Online] Cited 07/08/2022
  4. “During the years following World War I, and until the consolidation of the Nazi party in 1933, paintings and drawings of butchered, semi-nude women proliferated in the art galleries and publications of the Weimar Republic.2 This phenomenon coincided with the sensationalized serial killings of women and children by men who were known as – among other names – Lustmörders. Lustmord, a term derived from criminology and psychology, was the label assigned to this sensational genre.3 The Weimar Lustmördes clearly bother modern scholars, who are faced with the challenge that Weimar critics failed to comment on how these paintings represented the disfiguring of women. The misogyny of these works, uncommented upon in their own time, has become the central focus of much modern Lustmord scholarship, which ultimately defines this treatment of the female form as implicit attacks on the so-called New Woman, a name given to middle- and upper-class women pushing against the traditional roles and restrictions imposed upon them by society.”4
    Stephanie Bender. “Lady Killers and Lust-Murderers: The Lustmord Paintings of Weimar Germany,” in Athanor XXIX (Vol. 29), 2011, pp. 77-83. Florida Online Journals [Online] Cited 07/08/2022
  5. Travis Diehl. “New Objectivity,” in Frieze magazine 10 March 2016 [Online] Cited 07/08/2022
  6. Ibid.,
  7. Anonymous text. “la Nouvelle Objectivité, Allemagne années 20,” on the Almanart website Nd [Online] Cited 04/08/2022 (translated from the French by Google translate)
  8. Johannes Molzahn. ‘Nicht mehr lessen! Sehen!’ Das Kunstblatt 12: 3 (1928), p. 80, quoted in Pepper Stetler, Op cit.,
  9. “Rationality is an important aspect of literary representations of Lustmord, and the suggestion of the metropolis as a rational sphere is linked to the role of the male protagonist.14 The male figure is depicted as intellectual and cultured, and even though he commits Lustmord, it is because his rational foundation has been somehow destroyed.15 The manifestation of this violence, this monstrosity that overtakes the rational male, is rooted in the feminine and consequently lashes out at women.”
    Jay Michael Layne. “Uncanny Collapse: Sexual Violence and Unsettled Rhetoric in German-Language Lustmord Representations, 1900-1933” (PhD diss., University of Michigan, 2008, pp. 60-671) quoted in Stephanie Bender. “Lady Killers and Lust-Murderers: The Lustmord Paintings of Weimar Germany,” in Athanor XXIX (Vol. 29), 2011, pp. 77-83. Florida Online Journals [Online] Cited 07/08/2022

.
Many thankx to the Centre Pompidou for allowing me to publish some of the images in the posting. Thankx also to Aubrey Perry for the use of most of the installation photographs of the exhibition (except the five noted below)

 

0 – Introduction
1 – Prologue

2 – Standardisation

What is standardisation? The singularities are erased, in favour of recourse to models, standardised types, simple forms reproducible in series. Here we see paintings like those of George Grosz, with his faceless figures, schematic human beings with neutral expressions set in empty towns. This corresponds, in architecture, to the launch in Germany of major programs of housing estates, as in Frankfurt, for which the habitat is designed from standardized models. Here we see engravings made by Gernd Arntz, where people are schematized and geometricized. The silhouettes appear in a simple and subtle game of black and white: the stripes of a prisoner play with the grid, the attitudes of the workers are repeated to the rhythm of the wheels of the machine.

[Anglea Lampe, curator of the exhibition]: The attention of the artists is focused on the social belonging of the people. The sociological notion becomes important, especially with the group which was created in Cologne with the artists Gerd Arntz, Heinrich Hoerle, Franz W. Seiwert, who form the Cologne Progressives group with whom  August Sander exhibits. Arntz produced the series of engravings Häuser der Zeit (12 Houses of the Time), where he represents social classes according to a set of codes. It’s a very political speech of the time. Arntz continues to develop this approach with the philosopher and economist Otto Neurath, who works in Vienna: he develops a universal visual language, called isotype. Isotype is the acronym for “international system of typographic picture education”, in other words it is the precursor of the pictogram or emoticons.

In the 1920s, there was the desire, this dream to create universal languages. These pictograms, which are associated with a colour code, make up, for example, a typology of professions, social categories or elements of daily life, for a democratization of knowledge. Economic and societal problems could be visualised and broadcast thanks to this new visual system… it really is a system of infographics before the letter.

 

3 – Visages de ce temps (Face of our time)

[Florian Ebner, curator of the “August Sander” section]: This two-part exhibition explores the dialogue between August Sander and the Progressive artists of Cologne. We see on the wall the portraits that Sander dedicated to artists and next to it, paintings by artists like Heinrich Hoerle, Franz Seiwert and Anton Räderscheidt. We see how much Sander is inspired by their art and it is a magical moment.

We see on a large table the exchanges between Sander and the Progressives of Cologne: the letters, but also the reproductions he made of their paintings. And at that moment, there is an opening in the picture rail which gives the perspective on the Sander corridor and we see the first group, Les Paysans (Farmers). We see these two forces that run through his work, both rooted in the land – he comes from Westerwald – and revolutionary energy. These are twelve sources of energy that make part of the productive tensions that marked his work.

“By seeing, observing and thinking, with the aid of the photo apparatus and adding a date indication, we can fix universal history and, thanks to the expressive possibilities of photography as a universal language, influence all of humanity.” ~ August Sander

[Florian Ebner]: To return to photography as a universal language, the 1920s in Germany are marked by discussions on the different types of society. It is a society that has asked many questions about itself.

“The fundamental idea of ​​my photographic work People of the Twentieth Century, which I began in 1910 and which contains about five to six hundred photos, a selection of which was published in 1929 under the Antlitz der Zeit (Face of Our Time), is nothing but a profession of faith in photography as a universal language and the attempt to paint a physiognomic portrait of the German man, based on the optical-chemical process of the photography, therefore on the pure shaping of light.” ~ August Sander

[Florian Ebner]: I think Sander’s portraiture embodies something specific in photography: he invites people to stage themselves in front of his camera, to take a posture for several seconds. It is therefore a “self-portrait assisted”, according to photography historian Olivier Lugon, and at the same time he assigns these people a place in his theory of society.

The idea of ​​editing society is exactly that: then in his photographic archives, he assigns models and their images a place in these seven groups and 45 portfolios. Face of our time, his book, allows people to understand in a subtle and fine way the class differences of the Weimar Republic.

 

4 – Montage

Photomontage appeared during the war among Dada artists. A few years later, this technique is taken up in painting, photography, cinema, literature, to be put at the service of the analysis of society. The mix of patterns or information, dissociated in reality, allows artists to offer a form of visual synthesis of the time.

 

5 – Les Choses (Things)

The scrutinising gaze of New Objectivity artists brings them take objects as models. Due to its supposedly objective technique, photography seems adapted to the precise rendering of things in their materiality. A dialogue is established between the two arts, painting and photography.

[Angela Lampe]: The paintings are animated by this tension between this inert plant and this bare and geometric environment which gives the false appearance of a bourgeois interior but which is completely artificial and fictitious. Architecture, geometric, abstract, these are the attributes that fascinate artists.

[Sophie Goetzmann]: No photo is objective from the moment there is a framing, a choice of motif, a choice of object photographed, we are in the order of choice. There is a whole practice of plant staging, sometimes point-based original views, close-ups, with attention to rendering detail and matter of these plants. These plants are photographed truly as objects. We are not interested in plants as living beings; they have no vividness, whether in paintings or photographs, they are very rigid, they are placed in neutral and empty environments. They are still life very dead!

 

6 – Persona froide (Cold persona)

The four murderous years of the war that ended in defeat cause general disappointment. Humiliation breeds a culture of shame. In the 1920s appears what the university specialist in culture German Helmut Lethen calls the “cold persona”.

[Sophie Goetzmann]: Helmut Lethen explains that guilt and shame are two different things. Guilt is having made a mistake and racking your brain, torturing yourself with this mistake to try to fix it; so the guilt, according to him, has to do with interiority.

Shame is having made a mistake but, instead of going into introspection, it’s about thinking outward, to think, “What are people going to think of me? How do I save face with others, how do I erase this shame?”. This is what he calls the culture of shame, people are dominated by a shame of ideas that they never had before the First World War, in particular because everyone had gone merrily to war. The war was a real moment of patriotism in Germany as in France, and all these people found themselves face to face with the reality of war: mutilation, dead, traumatised, bereaved families. At the end of the First World War there is a kind of shame that takes hold people compared to their ideas of four years ago.

How is it transcribed in portraits and in attitudes in general? Through a new way of being, of playing the detached person, of protecting oneself using a mask of indifference. In portraits, people don’t smile, do not display any particular expression, are detached on a neutral background. At the same time, portraits say something about people. In place to express their interiority, they show their position in the social order or their occupation. New Objectivity artists put people in boxes and represent people according to their profession, their place of work.

The portraits say something in general, which is to hide one’s feelings. In this section, there is a portrait of a woman putting on makeup. The make-up is a symbol of this new social attitude which is to put a layer of make-up on oneself so as not to reveal one’s torment, one’s feelings to others, it becomes something embarrassing to do that. Another example is the painter Otto Dix who represents the journalist Sylvia von Harden without complacency, as a typical emancipated intellectual of the Weimar Republic. She has short hair, wears a monocle, smokes and drinks a glass of alcohol. His sentimental torments are reflected in the choice of attributes: her bottom is undone, her pose is constrained, she is uncomfortable in a feminized pink universe. Its interior is exposed.

[Florian Ebner] There is a second meeting point where the two paths intersect. This is Chapter 6: The Cold Persona for the New Objectivity Exposition and  group 3 of Sander dedicated to the woman. For women, he thinks about five portfolios that attempt to describe the role of women in society. The first three describe the woman passively; it is always someone else who defines the woman: The Woman and the Child, The Woman and the Man, The Family. It’s still a quite conservative design about society and the role of women. The last two portfolios, The Elegant Woman, The Intellectual Woman underline the new role and type of woman, the Neue Frau, the new woman. We can see together, the very beautiful portrait painted by Otto Dix of the journalist Sylvia von Harden and that of a German radio secretary photographed by Sander: the game of gestures, the hand, the cigarette, the clothes, they could be sisters, twins.

It is a conception of the portrait that no longer speaks of the interiority of a person but how to describe a person by external attributes, by gesture, accessories, the habitus. At this point, the dialogue between the painted portraits and the photographs of August Sander is very rich.

 

7 – Rationalité (Rationality)

After the war, it was the economic crisis in Germany, which experienced hyperinflation. In 1924, the Dawes Plan aimed to help Germany reconnect with the growth, thanks to the injection of American capital. It then develops in Germans a fascination for America which has invested generously. The model society of the United States is methodical, harmonious, innovative because it is governed by technology. It is in this context that rationalisation infuses culture in Germany, from how to organise interiors to popular entertainment, through graphic design.

[Angela Lampe]: The rationalisation of work developed by Taylor is imported into German companies, leading to rapid industrialisation and a mechanisation of tasks. The principle of rationalisation soon becomes a new norm that structures social and cultural life itself. For example, the graphic designer Paul Renner develops the Futura font, based on geometric shapes elementary. This new standard of rationality also applies to the development interior. Viennese architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky, who works in Frankfurt, designs a modern and functional kitchen.

 

8 – Utilité

New musical styles imported from America appear in Germany in the 1920s and became very popular. especially jazz and dance music like foxtrot. Composers Ernst Krenek, Kurt Wild or Paul Hindemith drew inspiration from it to create a new musical genre, the Zeitoper, in French: topical opera. The plots take place in the contemporary world, the sets incorporate modern machines like trains, cars, telephones. The opera then addresses a wide audience and draws its references from popular culture.

[Angela Lampe]: There is a great democratisation of this, let’s say, elitist medium, which was the opera. An important figure in the theatre of the 1920s was Bertolt Brecht. At the antipodes of the lyrical outpourings of expressionism it was he, Bertolt Brecht, with the director Erwin Piscator, who developed new forms of theatre, what is called epic theatre, episches theater. In fiction, they introduce scenic devices into their plays that allow the viewer to analyse the plot in order to participate in its awakening Politics. They work from the effects of distancing. The introduction, for example, of the narrator or the break in the unity of the action are all elements generating a distance that encourages reflection. The goal is really to make the spectator.

There are other moments, which can be called moments of neo-objectivity, so Neue Sachlichkeit, in Brecht. It is the theme of sport, he is keen on sport. Moreover, he compares the theatre to sporting events, especially boxing, which really becomes a very important reference for his pieces. There is also his dry and very sober style, which distinguishes it as a representative of this New Objectivity, especially in his poetry.

It is prose that takes precedence over poetry. It’s really another form of literature, which is with an approach, let’s say, rather sociological than poetic. Brecht shares with the New Objectivity also the concern for a democratisation of art. He was interested in the possibilities offered by mass broadcasting devices. For example, he works with recorded poems and radio plays, so broadcast on the radio which spread very quickly in German homes during that time. It’s really a novelty of the mass media, as they say today, which makes it possible to disseminate and democratise culture.

 

9 – Transgressions

[Sophie Goetzmann]: We have two forms of transgression which are shown in these rooms. The transgression of gender norms, first: the idea of gender norms that will shift, especially in expression, in clothes, for example, that we are going to choose, and in particular the women of that time.

So, often, the women of the upper middle class, who live in the big cities, will resort to men’s fashion, dress boyishly, wear short hair, a flat torso, ties, to modify the feminine fashion of the time. So transgression of gender norms and transgression of heterosexuality because, in the Berlin of the 1920s, there was a whole
very important homosexual subculture, in particular through clubs, meeting places, restaurants, bars.

[Angela Lampe]: The painter and designer Jeanne Mammen creates watercolours featuring the daily life of lesbian meeting places, depicting the relationships between women with a certain tenderness, just like Christian Schad, who draws two young boys lovingly embraced. Otto Dix, in his portraits, depicts on the other hand its models according to a more heteronormative vision. The dancer Anita Berber, an openly bisexual star with multiple escapades, is caricatured as a personification of sin. All in red, she is presented as a figure really out of hell. She is truly the embodiment of Babylon, sinful.

[Sophie Goetzmann]: It is these two forms of transgression that are shown in the first two rooms. The last room in the section shows what is rather the opposite of a transgression, i.e. a reminder of the norm and the attitude of most male artists in the face of these transgressions, which is an attitude of anguish, which is an attitude of fear of seeing lesbian women who openly display their sexuality, to see gender norms that are blurred.

Doesn’t that open the door to a mix, too, of gender roles, a take on the power of women over men? So many of these men will multiply the images of women bruised, murdered, butchered, which also echoes the various facts of the time, where there is a whole phenomenon with serial killers that make the headlines, photographs of murders that are broadcast in the press. These are images that draw a lot of inspiration from this visual culture, almost, murder at that time. These are works that translate a certain anguish of these artists in the face of all these transgressions of the standards of gender and these transgressions of heterosexuality.

The shame felt by the men following the defeat of Germany after the First World War, is expressed through representations of violence against women because, too, women progressed on the social ladder during the First World War. Most of the time, positions that have been left vacant by men who went to the front were taken by women.

 

10 – Regard vers le bas (Look back)

In this last section, we are interested in artists who have been excluded, the losers from the appearance of Taylorism, who are obviously the workers who are
exploited and which become an interchangeable mass and simple cogs in enormous machinery that overtakes them. But also, all the people who live in a form of marginality, whether war-disabled, or the unemployed, or people who live on the fringes of cities and who do not go to shows, operas or Zeitoper, or Brecht’s shows which are visible in city centres, but who are completely excluded from all this entertainment and who are doomed to a form of marginality in their life, in their place of living, and who are completely crushed by the capitalist economic machinery.

[Angela Lampe]: Far from the bustling boulevards and their neon signs, the painters like Hans Baluschek and Hans Grundig paint those excluded from urban entertainment, like poor families moving through these terrains, waves relegated to the fringes of cities. During these years, there was really a gap between what we call the rich and poor, between underprivileged backgrounds and bourgeois backgrounds, even industrialised capitals. This gap was widening during these years.

[Florian Ebner]: So Sander is going to dedicate portfolio 11 to this group, La grande ville, where we also see the youth of the big city, the young high school girl, the young high school student, dressed in a very chic way, but we also see the uprooted from society, we also see the invalids of the First World War, we see the left-behinds of the system capitalist.

There is a portfolio called The People Who Came to My Door, which is as a sort of mise-en-abyme of his method. That is to say, he invites people who came to ask for money (beggars, hawkers, unemployed), to have their photograph taken in the frame of their door, in front of the entrance wall. It is a true typology of these people. And there is a very beautiful sentence, a very nice idea, where he asks himself: “Can you imagine taking in all the employment offices in Germany, at the same time, a photograph. What strong image would that give of poverty?”

“Here, the photo speaks a very cultured language that can be heard by everybody; it is another language, but just as expressive, as photography would speak if cameras were installed in the 365 existing unemployment offices today on the sole territory of the German Reich and if we made them work simultaneously. If we photographed the people in these offices, then we gathered the results thus obtained and we added the date, 1931, the tragedy of this photographic language would certainly be understandable, without further comment, by all men today and in times to come.” ~ August Sander

11 – Epilogue

.
Text from the exhibition podcast transcription on the Centre Pompidou website translated from the French by Google translate

 

This exhibition on the art and culture of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) in Germany is the first overview presented in France of this artistic trend. Apart from painting and photography, the project brings together architecture, design, film, theatre, literature and music.

People of the 20th century, the masterwork by photographer August Sander, establishes the motif of a cross-section of a society, an “exhibition in the exhibition”, as a structural principle, the two interlinked perspectives opening up a large panorama of German art in the late 1920s.

This multidisciplinary exhibition is structured into eight thematic sections corresponding to the groups and sociocultural categories created by August Sander.

A review of German history in the context of contemporary Europe with populist movements and divergent societies in the throes of the digital revolution invites us to observe the political resonances and media analogies between yesterday’s situations and those of today.

 

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander' at Centre Pompidou, Paris

Installation view of the exhibition 'Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander' at Centre Pompidou, Paris

Installation view of the exhibition 'Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander' at Centre Pompidou, Paris

 

Installation views of the exhibition Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander at Centre Pompidou, Paris showing at right in the bottom image, works by Rudolf Schlichter: from left to right, Arbeiter mit Mütze (Worker with hat), 1926; Verstümmelte Proletarierfrau (Mutilated proletarian woman), 1922-1923; and  Schwachsinnige II (Imbeciles II), 1923-1924
Photos: Centre Pompidou, Paris

 

Wall text from the exhibition 'Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander' at Centre Pompidou, Paris

 

Wall text from the exhibition Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander at Centre Pompidou, Paris

 

 

Les choses / Things

The artists of the New Objectivity were particularly interested in the genre of still life and represented objects with great clarity, their gaze being both scrutinising and cutting. Because of its supposed objectivity, photography seems particularly suited to the precise rendering of things in their materiality. Inspired by this hyperrealistic fidelity, the painters appropriated the visual language of photography. Rubber cacti and fig trees were very popular in 1920s Germany, where they were sought after for their exoticism. Artists are passionate about these plants then perceived as the plant equivalent of crystalline stone: architectural, geometric, abstract. Xaver Fuhr and Alexander Kanoldt paint figs with great meticulousness, in uncluttered compositions that bring out their clear structure. Georg Scholz values ​​the stiffness of the cactus, in resonance with the rigid pictorial style of the New Objectivity.

This reified nature is part of a broader fascination with the world of objects. Photographers and painters are also interested in glass objects, light bulbs and tableware, often depicted in plunging or unusual perspectives.

 

Persona froide / Cold persona

The four murderous years of the war ended in defeat engendered a form of general disillusion in Germany. According to literary historian Helmut Lethen, the humiliation inflicted by the victors gave rise to a culture of shame, characterised by widespread embarrassment about pre-war utopias. If guilt implies an introspective approach and supposes questioning oneself about one’s wrongs, shame is external and requires above all to preserve one’s image with others. In the 1920s, what Lethen called the “cold persona” appeared, a new social type that consisted of seeking to escape feelings of humiliation by displaying a mask of coldness and indifference.

This new behaviour profoundly modifies the practice of portraiture. Previously turned towards the interiority and the psychological expression of the model, it now focuses on the external signs of individuals. The artists of the New Objectivity thus represent less personalities than social types, defined by their profession. Often displayed in the very title of the work (businessman, textile merchant, doctor, etc.), it is also identifiable through attributes that allow it to be recognised.

In Menschen des 20. Jahrhunderts (People of the 20th century), August Sander devotes a group to “Socio-professional categories”, photographing less individual characters than occupations.

Like Julius Bissier, who represents himself forging his own image without emotion or affect (see below), the portraits appear cold, emptied of all feeling, in resonance with their often neutral and deserted backgrounds. The subjects appear alone and wear a detached expression, an absent, even empty gaze. Like the young girl represented by Lotte Laserstein, they seem to seek to disguise their feelings behind an impenetrable appearance.

Artists are also interested in changes in gender norms, like August Sander, who photographs “La femme” in Menschen des 20. Jahrhunderts. With an almost sociological eye, they construct a typology of the emancipated Neue Frau (New Woman): Bubikopf (short variant of the bob cut), cigarette, wearing of a shirt or even a tie become recurring attributes in the female portraits of the time.

 

Rationalité / Rationality

The economic crisis and spectacular post-war inflation were followed by a period of stabilisation and relative growth, favoured in particular by the Dawes Plan and the injection of American capital in 1924. A fascination for America and its model of society seen as methodical and harmonious, governed by technique, was born in Germany.

The rationalisation of work developed by Taylor is imported into German companies, leading to rapid industrialisation and the mechanisation of tasks. The aestheticisation of machines is found in the artists of the New Objectivity, who praise their beauty. Carl Grossberg’s paintings show sparkling clean industrial sites in clean, meticulously detailed compositions. The cult of technology continued with the appearance of the radio, a new domestic machine perceived by the painter Max Radler or the playwright Bertolt Brecht as a potential tool for emancipation.

The principle of rationalisation soon becomes a new norm that structures social and cultural life. The interior layout of the small-sized accommodation is studied by the architects and designers to optimise the space. Along the same lines, Marcel Breuer and Franz Schuster developed sleek, space-saving furniture that freed up as much space as possible. The architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky has designed a modern and functional kitchen in Frankfurt, organised as a workspace to limit the movements of the housewife. This concern to improve the daily life of women is part of a general desire for emancipation: the 1920s are those of the appearance of a financially independent Neue Frau (New Woman), who leaves her traditional role to confront to modern technology or to sports previously reserved for men.

 

Transgressions

In Germany, traditional gender roles were redefined after the First World War. After occupying vacant positions during the conflict, women are now established in the labor market, and obtain the right to vote in 1918. This new position leads them to adopt an androgynous appearance by appropriating the codes of masculinity: short hair, shirt, tie and flat chest, as shown in Selbstbildnis als Malerin (Self-Portrait as a Painter) (1935, below) by Kate Diehn-Bitt (1900-1978), oil on plywood.

In Berlin, in the famous Eldorado cabaret, transvestite artists push this confusion of genres even further. An important homosexual subculture develops in these clubs tolerated by the police. The painter and designer Jeanne Mammen creates watercolours that capture the daily life of lesbian meeting places, depicting the relationships between women with a certain tenderness.

The portraits of Otto Dix, on the other hand, are more imbued with the homophobic stereotypes of the time. The dancer Anita Berber, openly bisexual star with multiple escapades, is caricatured as a personification of sin. Jeweller Karl Krall appears with disproportionately scooped and wide hips, echoing physiologist Eugen Steinach’s ideas about “feminized men”.

Transgressions of heterosexuality and decompartmentalisation of genres generate anxiety in some male artists which is reflected in their works by a violent reminder of the norm. Rudolf Schlichter, Karl Hubbuch or Otto Dix multiply the representations of Lustmörder, sexual crimes showing women violently murdered by knife or hanging.

 

Regard vers le bas / Look down

The fascination for industry and machines clashes with the harsh reality of the daily life of the most modest populations. Driven by a desire to represent the reverse side of triumphant capitalism, certain artists of the New Objectivity turn their gaze towards those invisible things that technical progress excludes or condemns. Although pretending to a representation objective of the social world, they refuse political neutrality, most of them being committed to the Communist Party.

Karl Völker and Oskar Nerlinger create portraits of anonymous crowds of workers in the oppressive environment of industrial architecture: de-individuated, they are no more than simple cogs in the capitalist economic machine. Using a detached style, the artists represent the precarious populations living on the edge of large modern urban centres, showcases of German capitalism. Far from the bustling boulevards and their neon signs, Hans Baluschek and Hans Grundig paint those excluded from urban entertainment, poor families living in vacant lots on the outskirts of cities.

 

Max Radler (1904-1971) 'Der Radiohörer' (The Radio Listener) 1930

 

Max Radler (1904-1971)
Der Radiohörer (The Radio Listener)
1930
Oil on canvas

 

Wilhelm Heise (German, 1892–1965) 'Verblühender Frühling. Selbstbildnis als Radiobastler' (Faded Spring. Self-portrait as a radio amateur) 1926

 

Wilhelm Heise (German, 1892–1965)
Verblühender Frühling. Selbstbildnis als Radiobastler (Faded Spring. Self-portrait as a radio amateur)
1926
Oil on canvas

 

Raoul Hausmann (Austrian, 1886-1971) 'Mechanischer Kopf (Der Geist Unserer Zeit)' The Mechanical Head (The Spirit of Our Time) 1919

 

Raoul Hausmann (Austrian, 1886-1971)
Mechanischer Kopf (Der Geist Unserer Zeit) The Mechanical Head (The Spirit of Our Time)
1919
Assemblage
Wooden hairdresser’s puppet and various objects attached to it: telescopic beaker, a leather case, pipe stem, white cardboard bearing the number 22, a piece of a seamstress’ tape measure, a double decimeter, a watch cog, a roll of character d printing
32.5 x 21 x 20cm
Pompidou Centre collection
Purchase, 1974

 

 

“I wanted to unveil the spirit of our time, the spirit of everyone in its rudimentary state.”

Reducing the individual to a series of figures, this head criticises a harmful mechanisation revealed by the Great War. It also constitutes the announcement of a new, rational and impersonal man in tune with modern society. Anti-bourgeois and corrosive, does Raoul Hausmann reject the present or does he project himself into the future?

 

The most famous work by Hausmann, Mechanischer Kopf (Der Geist Unserer Zeit), “The Mechanical Head (The Spirit of Our Time)”, c. 1920, is the only surviving assemblage that Hausmann produced around 1919-1920. Constructed from a hairdresser’s wig-making dummy, the piece has various measuring devices attached including a ruler, a pocket watch mechanism, a typewriter, some camera segments and a crocodile wallet.

Der Geist Unserer Zeit – Mechanischer Kopf specifically evokes the philosopher George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831). For Hegel… everything is mind. Among Hegel’s disciples and critics was Karl Marx. Hausmann’s sculpture might be seen as an aggressively Marxist reversal of Hegel: this is a head whose “thoughts” are materially determined by objects literally fixed to it. However, there are deeper targets in western culture that give this modern masterpiece its force. Hausmann turns inside out the notion of the head as seat of reason, an assumption that lies behind the European fascination with the portrait. He reveals a head that is penetrated and governed by brute external forces.”

Jonathan Jones. “The Spirit of Our Time – Mechanical Head, Raoul Hausmann (1919),” on The Guardian website Saturday 27th September 2003 quoted in “Raoul Hausmann,” on the Wikipedia website [Online] Cited 01/08/2022

 

Carl Grossberg (German, 1894-1940) 'Jacquard-Weberei' (Jacquard weaving workshop) 1934

 

Carl Grossberg (German, 1894-1940)
Jacquard-Weberei (Jacquard weaving workshop)
1934
Oil on wood

 

Hans Baluschek (German, 1870-1935) 'Sommernacht' (Summer Evening) 1929 (installation view)

 

Hans Baluschek (German, 1870-1935)
Sommernacht (Summer Evening) (installation view)
1929
Oil on canvas
120 x 151cm
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

Hans Baluschek (German, 1870-1935) 'Sommernacht' (Summer Evening) 1929

 

Hans Baluschek (German, 1870-1935)
Sommernacht (Summer Evening)
1929
Oil on canvas
120 x 151cm

 

Hans Baluschek (German, 1870-1935)

Hans Baluschek (9 May 1870 – 28 September 1935) was a German painter, graphic artist and writer.

Baluschek was a prominent representative of German Critical Realism, and as such he sought to portray the life of the common people with vivid frankness. His paintings centred on the working class of Berlin. He belonged to the Berlin Secession movement, a group of artists interested in modern developments in art. Yet during his lifetime he was most widely known for his fanciful illustrations of the popular children’s book Little Peter’s Journey to the Moon (German title: Peterchens Mondfahrt).

Hans Baluschek, after 1920, was an active member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, which at the time still professed a Marxist view of history.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander' at Centre Pompidou, Paris

 

Installation view of the exhibition Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander at Centre Pompidou, Paris showing at left, Karl Hubbuch’s Twice Hilde II and Twice Hilde (c. 1929, below); and at right, Otto Dix’s An die Schönheit (Selbstbildnis) (To the beauty (Selfportrait)) (1922, below).
Photo: Centre Pompidou, Paris

 

Wall text from the exhibition 'Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander' at Centre Pompidou, Paris

 

Wall text from the exhibition Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander at Centre Pompidou, Paris

 

Karl Hubbuch (German, 1891-1979) 'Zweimal Hilde II' (Twice Hilde II) c. 1929 (installation view)

 

Karl Hubbuch (German, 1891-1979)
Zweimal Hilde II (Twice Hilde II) (installation view)
c. 1929
Oil on canvas mounted on masonite
Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bomemsiza, Madrid
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

Karl Hubbuch (German, 1891-1979) 'Zweimal Hilde' (Twice Hilde) c. 1929 (installation view)

 

Karl Hubbuch (German, 1891-1979)
Zweimal Hilde (Twice Hilde) (installation view)
c. 1929
Oil on canvas mounted on masonite
Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bomemsiza, Madrid
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

 

Karl Hubbuch, who was originally from Karlsruhe, often travelled to Berlin. It was there that he met George Grosz and Rudolf Schlichter, with whom he joined the radical Novembergruppe and Rote Gruppe, and later the Neue Sachlichkeit. Despite his radical ideological stance, the critical accent of his painting was tempered by the more moderate and classical style characteristic of the Karlsruhe artists.

Twice Hilde II is a double image of Hubbuch’s wife, whom he painted on numerous occasions. Hilde Isai (1905-1971), one of his drawing from life students at the Karlsruhe academy, whom he married in 1928, was an energetic and independent woman who eventually left her husband to devote herself to her passion for photography at the Dessau Bauhaus. The composition, in the manner of a Doppelgänger, was initially designed as a quadruple portrait which the artist later cut into two after the central part was damaged by a leak. The two pieces, which were exhibited together on a few occasions, and the preparatory drawings provide a progressive sequence of Hilde’s personality. Hubbuch, who was very fond of multiple portraits, instead of attempting to capture Hilde’s personality in a single figure, breaks it down into numerous facets, from the image on the left – which shows her seated with crossed legs on a modern tube chair designed by Marcel Breuer in a serious, prim pose wearing glasses that give her an intellectual air – to the provocative, coquettish woman in her underclothes on the far right of the Munich double portrait. Like most of the members of the German New Objectivity movement, Hubbuch was attracted by everyday scenes and by rendering various objects and textures in minute detail.

Although the painting has often been dated to 1923, in the catalogue of the retrospective exhibition of the painter’s work in 1981, the first serious critical study of his oeuvre, Wolfgang Hartmann ascribed it to 1929 on the grounds of particular stylistic features and the fact that Hubbuch did not meet Hilde until 1926.

Paloma Alarcó. “Karl Hubbuch,” on the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bomemsiza website Nd [Online] Cited 02/08/2022

 

Karl Hubbuch (German, 1891-1979) 'Zweimal Hilde II' (Twice Hilde II) c. 1929

 

Karl Hubbuch (German, 1891-1979)
Zweimal Hilde II (Twice Hilde II)
c. 1929
Oil on canvas mounted on masonite
Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bomemsiza, Madrid

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969) 'An die Schönheit (Selbstbildnis)' (To the beauty (Selfportrait)) 1922

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969)
An die Schönheit (Selbstbildnis) (To the beauty (Selfportrait))
1922
Oil on canvas
139.5 x 120.5cm
Von der Heydt-Museum Wuppertal, Wuppertal
© Adagp, Paris, 2022

 

Heinrich Maria Davringhausen (German, 1894-1970) 'The Dreamer II' 1919 (installation view)

 

Heinrich Maria Davringhausen (German, 1894-1970)
The Dreamer II (installation view)
1919
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

 

Heinrich Maria Davringhausen (German, 1894-1970)

Heinrich Maria Davringhausen (1894-1970) spent his youth in Aachen and studied sculpture at the Düsseldorf Art Academy in 1913-14, where he met Carlo Mense. Rhenish Expressionism, with its leanings towards Fauvism, Cubism and Futurism, exerted a formative influence on Davringhausen’s palette and composition.

In the years that followed, Davringhausen travelled constantly and met Georg Schrimpf at the Monte Verità artists’ colony near Ascona. Several portraits were done of him in a realistically overpainted manner which show the artist against a coloured Futurist background. The loss of an eye in his childhood ensured that Davringhausen was spared military service when the first world war broke out. Heinrich Maria Davringhausen returned to Germany, moved to Munich in 1918 and joined the group of Düsseldorf artists known as Das junge Rheinland.

Under the influence of the Cologne “progressives”, Davringhausen now painted primarily abstract pictures with colour surfaces, some of them conceived in series. Between 1924 and 1925 the artist lived in Toledo, Spain, but chose to settle in Cologne in 1928, where he founded “Gruppe 32” with Anton Räderscheidt et al.

After he married Lore Auerbach, the daughter of a Jewish industrialist, Davringhausen emigrated with his wife to Cala Ratjada on Mallorca in 1933. The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 compelled Davringhausen to flee to Ascona via Marseilles and Paris. A year later his work was shown in the exhibition of Degenerate Art. In 1939 Davringhausen was expelled from Switzerland and moved with his family to Haut-de-Cagnes near Nice. After managing to escape from Les Milles, where he was interned in 1939-1940, Davringhausen hid with his wife in Auvergne, returning to Haut-de-Cagnes after the war.

Most of Davringhausen’s work was lost during the war due to his being outlawed by the National Socialists and being continually on the run. In the postwar years Davringhausen exhibited his work, which reveals a close affinity with “Neue Sachlichkeit”, at many galleries across the world.

By the close of the 1950s art history was beginning to take notice of the New Objectivist style. As a result, Heinrich Maria Davringhausen’s early work was shown at numerous exhibitions and was included in publications dealing with the “Neue Sachlichkeit” movement. The artist’s comprehensive body of late work is primarily geometric and abstract yet it did not win much recognition. Heinrich Maria Davringhausen died in Nice on 13 December 1970.

Kraftgenie. “Heinrich Maria Davringhausen,” on the Weimar website, Tuesday, June 8, 2010 [Online] Cited 02/08/2022

 

Heinrich Maria Davringhausen (German, 1894-1970) 'The Dreamer' 1919

 

Heinrich Maria Davringhausen (German, 1894-1970)
The Dreamer
1919

 

Christian Schad (German, 1894-1982) 'Die Melancholische' (The Melancholy) 1931 (installation view)

 

Christian Schad (German, 1894-1982)
Die Melancholische (The Melancholy) (installation view)
1931
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

 

Christian Schad (21 August 1894 – 25 February 1982) was a German painter and photographer. He was associated with the Dada and the New Objectivity movements. Considered as a group, Schad’s portraits form an extraordinary record of life in Vienna and Berlin in the years following World War I.

 

 

The four devastating years of World War I, which ended in defeat for Germany, led to a general sense of disillusionment among the people. Abandoning the visionary, spiritual and psychological aesthetics of expressionism, the disabused artists turned to reality. In painting, this paradigm shift was reflected in the emergence of a more neutral and less expressive figurative style that tended towards greater objectivity.

The German empire was succeeded by a new political regime, the Weimar Republic, which promoted the development of a new democratic culture focused on the masses. The exaltation of the individual was replaced by an ideal of standardisation: singularities were erased in favour of models, standardised types and simple forms reproduced in series. In urban development, the unprecedented shortage of housing at the end of World War I led to the construction of large housing blocks with simple and identical forms, designed according to a principal of rationalisation. The notion of utility which was linked to the new objectivity movement, emerged in theatre, music and literature. This new concept promoted the creation of works intended for a wide audience, strongly anchored in their time and designed to be immediately understandable.

Art also expressed the social upheavals under the new German democracy. After World War I, women joined the labour market and obtained the right to vote in 1918; this very definition of traditional gender roles was a subject explored by painters and photographers. From 1924 onwards, the injection of American Capital ushered in a period of relative economic stabilisation, but many Germans remained excluded from the benefits of growth. Artists who are members of the communist party depicted labourers, the unemployed and beggars, driven by a desire to represent the underside of triumphant capitalism.

 

 

August Sander. 'Malerehepaar' (Couple of painters) (Martha and Otto Dix)

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
Malerehepaar (Couple of painters) (Martha et Otto Dix)
1925-1926
Modern gelatin silver print
20.6 x 24.3 cm
Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur, Cologne
© Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Cologne/ Adagp, Paris, 2022

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964) 'Painter (Marta Hegemann)' c. 1925

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
Painter (Marta Hegemann)
c. 1925
Gelatin silver print
10 3/16 × 7 3/8″ (25.8 × 18.7cm)
© Die Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Köln / Adagp, Paris

 

Carl Grossberg (German, 1894-1940) 'Self portrait' 1928

 

Carl Grossberg (German, 1894-1940)
Self portrait
1928
Oil on panel
70.1 x 60cm

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964) 'Hausierer' (Peddler) 1930

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
Hausierer (Peddler)
1930
Gelatin silver print
17.5 x 11.8cm (6.9 x 4.6 in)

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964) 'Bailiff' c. 1930

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
Bailiff
c. 1930
Gelatin silver print
10 3/16 × 7 3/8″ (25.8 × 18.7cm)

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964) '[Unemployed Man in Winter Coat, Hat in Hand]' 1920

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
[Unemployed Man in Winter Coat, Hat in Hand]
1920
Gelatin silver print
23.0 x 14.7cm (9 1/16 x 5 13/16 in)

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964) 'Frau eines Architekten (Dora Lüttgen)' (Architect's Wife (Dora Lüttgen)) 1926

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
Frau eines Architekten (Dora Lüttgen) (Architect’s Wife (Dora Lüttgen))
1926
Gelatin silver print
25.8 × 18.7cm

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969) 'Rothaarige Frau (Damenporträt)' Red-haired woman (female portrait) 1931 (installation view)

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969)
Rothaarige Frau (Damenporträt) (Red-haired woman (female portrait))
1931
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969) 'Rothaarige Frau (Damenporträt)' Red-haired woman (female portrait) 1931 

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969)
Rothaarige Frau (Damenporträt) Red-haired woman (female portrait)
1931

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander' at Centre Pompidou, Paris

 

Installation view of the exhibition Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander at Centre Pompidou, Paris showing at centre left, Rudolf Schlichter’s Margot (1924, below); and at second right, Otto Dix’s Bildnis der Journalistin Sylvia von Harden (Portrait of the journalist Sylvia von Harden) (1926, below)
Photo: Centre Pompidou, Paris

 

Rudolf Schlichter (German, 1890-1955) 'Margot' 1924

 

Rudolf Schlichter (German, 1890-1955)
Margot
1924
© Städel Museum

 

 

The prostitute Margot was portrayed several times by Rudolf Schlichter around 1924. Margot, portrayed in the pose of baroque portraits of rulers with a challenging look and self-confident right arm on her hips, bob haircut and cigarette, presents the type of the new woman. She buys her emancipation with the sale and – her swollen left eyelid indicates it – with the maltreatment of her body. The background shows a dreary tenement barracks, their “kingdom” is the street.

Text from the Städel Museum website

 

Rudolf Schlichter (German, 1890-1955)

Rudolf Schlichter (or Rudolph Schlichter) (December 6, 1890 – May 3, 1955) was a German painter and one of the most important representatives of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) movement.

Schlichter was born in Calw, Württemberg. After an apprenticeship as an enamel painter at a Pforzheim factory he attended the School of Arts and Crafts in Stuttgart. He subsequently studied under Hans Thoma and Wilhelm Trübner at the Academy in Karlsruhe. Called for military service in World War I, he carried out a hunger strike to secure early release, and in 1919 he moved to Berlin where he joined the Communist Party of Germany and the “November” group. He took part in a Dada fair in 1920 and also worked as an illustrator for several periodicals.

A major work from this period is his Dada Roof Studio, a watercolour showing an assortment of figures on an urban rooftop. Around a table sit a woman and two men in top hats. One of the men has a prosthetic hand and the other, also missing a hand, appears on closer scrutiny to be mannequin. Two other figures in gas masks may also be mannequins. A child holds a pail and a woman wearing high button shoes (for which Schlichter displayed a marked fetish) stands on a pedestal, gesturing inexplicably.

In 1925 Schlichter participated in the “Neue Sachlichkeit” exhibit at the Mannheim Kunsthalle. His work from this period is realistic, a good example being the Portrait of Margot (1924, above) now in the Berlin Märkisches Museum. It depicts a prostitute who often modelled for Schlichter, standing on a deserted street and holding a cigarette.

When Adolf Hitler took power, bringing to an end the Weimar period, his activities were greatly curtailed. In 1935 he returned to Stuttgart, and four years later to Munich. In 1937 his works were seized as degenerate art, and in 1939 the Nazi authorities banned him from exhibiting. His studio was destroyed by Allied bombs in 1942.

At the war’s end, Schlichter resumed exhibiting works. His works from this period were surrealistic in character. He died in Munich in 1955.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Rudolf Schlichter (German, 1890-1955) 'Damenkneipe' (Ladies' Bistro) c. 1925

 

Rudolf Schlichter (German, 1890-1955)
Damenkneipe (Ladies’ Bistro)
c. 1925
Watercolour, India ink and pencil on paper

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969) 'Bildnis der Journalistin Sylvia von Harden' (Portrait of the journalist Sylvia von Harden) 1926 (installation view)

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969)
Bildnis der Journalistin Sylvia von Harden (Portrait of the journalist Sylvia von Harden) (installation view)
1926
Oil and tempera on wood
121 x 89cm
Pompidou Centre collection
Purchase, 1961
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969) 'Bildnis der Journalistin Sylvia von Harden' (Portrait of the journalist Sylvia von Harden) 1926

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969)
Bildnis der Journalistin Sylvia von Harden (Portrait of the journalist Sylvia von Harden)
1926
Oil and tempera on wood
121 x 89cm
Pompidou Centre collection
Purchase, 1961
© Adagp, Paris
Photo credits: © Audrey Laurans – Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI /Dist. RMN-GP

 

 

Who is this woman who dares to appear in public alone, cigarette in hand, at a table of the Romanische Café, a haunt of the Berlin art worlds?

Sylvia von Harden was a journalist in Berlin in the 1920s. Her nonchalant stance is a statement of her emancipated intellectual role. Otto Dix undermines her arrogance with the detail of a loose stocking and her rather awkward pose. Her red-check dress contrast with the pink environment, typically Art Nouveau. The cold, satirical realism typifies the New Objectivity movement to which the painter belonged. Inspired by early 16th-century German masters (Cranach, Holbein), he embraced the tempera on wood panel technique as well as the choice to exhibit the ugliness.

 

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
Sekretärin beim Westdeutscher Rundfunk in Köln (Secretary at the Westdeutscher Rundfunk in Cologne)
1931
Gelatin silver print
28.6 x 20.5cm
Pompidou Centre collection
Purchase, 1979
© Die Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Köln / Adagp, Paris
Photo credits: © Guy Carrard – Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI /Dist. RMN-GP

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964) 'Der Maler Anton Räderscheidt' (Painter Anton Räderscheidt) 1926

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
Maler Anton Räderscheidt (Painter Anton Räderscheidt)
1926
Gelatin silver print
27.9 x 21.9cm
Pompidou Centre collection
Purchase, 1979
© Die Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Köln / Adagp, Paris
Photo credits: © Adam Rzepka – Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI /Dist. RMN-GP

 

Anton Räderscheidt (German, 1892-1970) 'Junger Mann mit gelben Handschuhen' (Young man with yellow gloves) 1921

 

Anton Räderscheidt (German, 1892-1970)
Junger Mann mit gelben Handschuhen (Young man with yellow gloves)
1921
Oil on panel
27.4 x 18.6cm

 

 

Anton Räderscheidt (German, 1892-1970)

Anton Räderscheidt (October 11, 1892 – March 8, 1970) was a German painter who was a leading figure of the New Objectivity.

Räderscheidt was born in Cologne. His father was a schoolmaster who also wrote poetry. From 1910 to 1914, Räderscheidt studied at the Academy of Düsseldorf. He was severely wounded in the First World War, during which he fought at Verdun. After the war he returned to Cologne, where in 1919 he cofounded the artists’ group Stupid with other members of the local constructivist and Dada scene. The group was short-lived, as Räderscheidt was by 1920 abandoning constructivism for a magic realist style. In 1925 he participated in the Neue Sachlichkeit (“New Objectivity”) exhibition at the Mannheim Kunsthalle.

Many of the works Räderscheidt produced in the 1920s depict a stiffly posed, isolated couple that usually bear the features of Räderscheidt and his wife, the painter Marta Hegemann. The influence of metaphysical art is apparent in the way the mannequin-like figures stand detached from their environment and from each other. A pervasive theme is the incompatibility of the sexes, according to the art historian Dennis Crockett. Few of Räderscheidt’s works from this era survive, because most of them were either seized by the Nazis as degenerate art and destroyed, or were destroyed in Allied bombing raids. His work was also part of the painting event in the art competition at the 1932 Summer Olympics.

His marriage to Marta ended in 1933. In 1934-1935 he lived in Berlin. He fled to France in 1936, and settled in Paris, where his work became more colourful, curvilinear and rhythmic. He was interned by the occupation authorities in 1940, but he escaped to Switzerland. In 1949 he returned to Cologne and resumed his work, producing many paintings of horses shortly before adopting an abstract style in 1957.

Räderscheidt was to return to the themes of his earlier work in some of his paintings of the 1960s. After suffering a stroke in 1967, he had to relearn the act of painting. He produced a penetrating series of self-portraits in gouache in the final years of his life. Anton Räderscheidt died in Cologne in 1970.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Anton Räderscheidt (German, 1892-1970) 'Junger Mann mit gelben Handschuhen' (Young man with yellow gloves) 1921 (installation view)

 

Anton Räderscheidt (German, 1892-1970)
Junger Mann mit gelben Handschuhen (Young man with yellow gloves)
1921
Oil on panel
27.4 x 18.6cm
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

Anton Räderscheidt (German, 1892-1970) 'Painter with Model (Self Portrait)' 1928 (installation view)

 

Anton Räderscheidt (German, 1892-1970)
Painter with Model (Self Portrait)
1928
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

Anton Räderscheidt (German, 1892-1970) 'Painter with Model (Self Portrait)' 1928

 

Anton Räderscheidt (German, 1892-1970)
Painter with Model (Self Portrait)
1928

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964) 'Zirkusarbeiter' (Circus Workers) 1926-1932

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
Zirkusarbeiter (Circus Workers)
1926-1932
Gelatin silver print
28 x 21.10cm
From the Pompidou Centre collection
© Die Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Köln / Adagp, Paris
Photo credits: © Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Cologne/ Adagp, Paris, 2022

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969) 'Bildnis der Tänzerin Anita Berber' (Portrait of the dancer Anita Berber) 1925 (installation view)

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969) 'Bildnis der Tänzerin Anita Berber' (Portrait of the dancer Anita Berber) 1925 (installation view)

 

Installation views of the exhibition Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander at Centre Pompidou, Paris showing Otto Dix’s Bildnis der Tänzerin Anita Berber (Portrait of the dancer Anita Berber) (1925, below)
Photos: Aubrey Perry

 

Wall text from the exhibition 'Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander' at Centre Pompidou, Paris

 

Wall text from the exhibition Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander at Centre Pompidou, Paris

 

Anita Berber in real life

 

This is Anita Berber in real life. The painted portrait was her at 26. She died three years later. “Sex, drugs, and rock & roll”

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969) 'Bildnis der Tänzerin Anita Berber' (Portrait of the dancer Anita Berber) 1925

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969)
Bildnis der Tänzerin Anita Berber (Portrait of the dancer Anita Berber)
1925
© Sammlung Landesbank Baden-Württemberg im Kunstmuseum Stuttgart
Photo: Frank Kleinbac

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969) Lustmord (Sex Murder) 1922 (installation view)

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969)
Lustmord (Sex Murder) (installation view)
1922
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

Otto Dix Sex Murder (Lustmord), 1922

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969)
Lustmord (Sex Murder)
1922

 

Jeanne Mammen (German, 1890-1976) 'Transvestitenlokal' (Local transvestite) c. 1931

 

Jeanne Mammen (German, 1890-1976)
Transvestitenlokal (Local transvestite)
c. 1931
Watercolour and pencil
29.50 x 58cm
From the Pompidou Centre collection
© BPK, Berlin, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Dietmar Katz

 

Heinrich Hoerle (German, 1895-1936) 'Selfportrait' c. 1931

 

Heinrich Hoerle (German, 1895-1936)
Selfportrait
c. 1931
Oil on canvas
41 x 29cm

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964) 'Painter [Heinrich Hoerle]' 1928-1932

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
Painter (Heinrich Hoerle)
1928-1932
Gelatin silver print

 

George Grosz (Georg Ehrenfried Gross) (German, 1893-1959) 'Porträt des Schriftstellers Max Herrmann-Neiße' (Portrait of the writer Max Herrmann-Neisse) 1925 (installation view)

 

George Grosz (Georg Ehrenfried Gross) (German, 1893-1959)
Porträt des Schriftstellers Max Herrmann-Neiße (Portrait of the writer Max Herrmann-Neisse) (installation view)
1925
Oil on canvas
100 x 101.50cm
From the Pompidou Centre collection
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

Wall text from the exhibition 'Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander' at Centre Pompidou, Paris

 

 

Wall text from the exhibition Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander at Centre Pompidou, Paris

 

George Grosz (Georg Ehrenfried Gross) (German, 1893-1959) 'Porträt des Schriftstellers Max Herrmann-Neiße' (Portrait of the writer Max Herrmann-Neisse) 1925

 

George Grosz (Georg Ehrenfried Gross) (German, 1893-1959)
Porträt des Schriftstellers Max Herrmann-Neiße (Portrait of the writer Max Herrmann-Neisse)
1925
Oil on canvas
100 x 101.50cm
From the Pompidou Centre collection
© The estate of George Grosz, Princeton, N.J. / Adagp, Paris
Photo credits: © BPK, Berlin, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Cem Yücetas

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964) 'Proletarian Intellectuals' [Else Schuler, Tristan Rémy, Franz Wilhelm Seiwert, Gerd Arntz] c. 1925

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
Proletarian Intellectuals [Else Schuler, Tristan Rémy, Franz Wilhelm Seiwert, Gerd Arntz]
c. 1925
Gelatin silver print
From the Pompidou Centre collection

 

Heinrich Jost (German, 1889-1948) 'Werbefaltblatt "Für Fotomontage Futura"' (Promotional leaflet "For photomontage Futura") Nd

 

Heinrich Jost (German, 1889-1948)
Werbefaltblatt “Für Fotomontage Futura” (Promotional leaflet “For photomontage Futura”)
Nd
Press advertisement in four inserted pages
From the Pompidou Centre collection
Photo credits: © Archiv der Massenpresse P. Rössler

 

Erich Wegner (German, 1899-1980) 'Wirtshaustheke' (Pub bar) c. 1927

 

Erich Wegner (German, 1899-1980)
Wirtshaustheke (Pub bar)
c. 1927
Canvas on plywood

 

Walter Schulz-Matan (German, 1899-1965) 'Der Fayencesammler' (The faience collector) 1927

 

Walter Schulz-Matan (German, 1899-1965)
Der Fayencesammler (The faience collector)
1927
Oil on canvas
© Münchner Stadtmuseum

 

Hannah Höch (German, 1889-1978) 'Gläser' (Glasses) 1927 (installation view)

 

Hannah Höch (German, 1889-1978)
Gläser (Glasses) (installation view)
1927
Oil on canvas
77.50 x 77.50cm
From the Pompidou Centre collection
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

 

Better known for her Dadaist collages and photomontages, the Berlin artist Hannah Höch creates here a hyperrealistic still life whose composition is strongly influenced by photography of the time: overhanging point of view, tight framing, neutral space, absence of context particular. The texture of the glass objects is rendered with great precision: this transparency symbolises a new conception of painting, which must show the objects in a limpid manner, without filter. In the very foreground, in an inverted reflection, the painter has represented herself at her easel in front of a window.

 

Hannah Höch (German, 1889-1978) 'Gläser' (Glasses) 1927

 

Hannah Höch (German, 1889-1978)
Gläser (Glasses)
1927
Oil on canvas
77.50 x 77.50cm
From the Pompidou Centre collection
© Adagp, Paris
Photo credits: © BPK, Berlin, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / image MHK

 

Albert Renger-Patzsch (German, 1897-1966) 'Gläser' (Glasses) 1926-1927

 

Albert Renger-Patzsch (German, 1897-1966)
Gläser (Glasses)
1926-1927
Gelatin silver print
From the Pompidou Centre collection
© Albert Renger-Patzch-Archiv / Ann & Jürgen Wilde / Adagp, Paris
Photo credits: © Albert Renger-Patzsch Archiv / Ann und Jürgen Wilde, Zülpich / Adagp, Paris, 2022

 

Aenne Biermann (German, 1898-1933) 'Bärwurz' Between 1926-1928

 

Aenne Biermann (German, 1898-1933)
Bärwurz
Between 1926-1928
Gelatin silver print
48 x 35.50cm
From the Pompidou Centre collection
Photo credits: © Stiftung Ann und Jürgen Wilde, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich

 

Sasha Stone (1895, Russia - 1940, France) 'Wenn Berlin Konstantinopel wäre' (If Berlin were Constantinople) Before 1929

 

Sasha Stone (1895, Russia – 1940, France)
Wenn Berlin Konstantinopel wäre (If Berlin were Constantinople)
Before 1929
Photo montage
From the Pompidou Centre collection
Public domain
Photo credits: © Museum Folkwang Essen – ARTOTHEK

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander' at Centre Pompidou, Paris

 

Installation views of the exhibition Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander at Centre Pompidou, Paris showing at second left, Franz Wilhelm Seiwert’s Wandbild für einen Fotografen (Mural for a Photographer) (1925, below); and at right, George Grosz’s Konstruktion (Ohne Titel) (1920, below)
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

Franz Wilhelm Seiwert (German, 1894-1933) 'Wandbild für einen Fotografen' (Mural for a Photographer) 1925 (installation view)

 

Franz Wilhelm Seiwert (German, 1894-1933)
Wandbild für einen Fotografen (Mural for a Photographer)
1925
Oil on canvas
109.5 × 154.5cm
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

Franz Wilhelm Seiwert (German, 1894-1933) 'Wandbild für einen Fotografen' (Mural for a Photographer) 1925

 

Franz Wilhelm Seiwert (German, 1894-1933)
Wandbild für einen Fotografen (Mural for a Photographer)
1925
Oil on canvas
109.5 × 154.5cm

 

George Grosz (Georg Ehrenfried Gross) (German, 1893-1959) 'Construction (Untitled)' (Konstruktion [Ohne Titel]) 1920 (installation view)

 

George Grosz (Georg Ehrenfried Gross) (German, 1893-1959)
Konstruktion (Ohne Titel) (Construction (Untitled)) (installation view)
1920
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

George Grosz. 'Construction (Untitled) (Konstruktion [Ohne Titel])' 1920

 

George Grosz (Georg Ehrenfried Gross) (German, 1893-1959)
Konstruktion (Ohne Titel) (Construction (Untitled))
1920

 

Franz Wilhelm Seiwert (German, 1894-1933) 'Freudlose Gasse' (Joyless Street) 1927 (installation view)

 

Franz Wilhelm Seiwert (German, 1894-1933)
Freudlose Gasse (Joyless Street) (installation view)
1927
Oil on canvas
65.5 x 80cm
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

 

Franz Wilhelm Seiwert (German, 1894-1933)

Franz Wilhelm Seiwert (March 9, 1894 – July 3, 1933) was a German painter and sculptor in a constructivist style. He was also politically active as a communist making significant contributions, both graphic and theoretical to Die Aktion.

Seiwert was born in Cologne. He was seriously burned in 1901, at the age of seven, in an experimental radiological treatment. As a result, he subsequently lived with the fear that his life would be short.

He studied from 1910 to 1914 at the Cologne School of Arts and Crafts. In 1919 he met Max Ernst and took part in Dada activities. He was invited to exhibit in the large Dada exhibit in Cologne but withdrew at the last moment. In that same year he formed the Stupid group which included Heinrich Hoerle and Anton Räderscheidt. According to Ernst, “Stupid was a secession from Cologne Dada. As far as Hoerle and especially Seiwert were concerned, Dada’s activities were aesthetically too radical and socially not concrete enough”.

His first large solo exhibition was in Cologne at the Kunstverein in 1923, and by the mid-1920s he was a leader of the “Group of Progressive Artists”, who sought to reconcile constructivism with realism while expressing radical political views. In 1929 he founded the magazine “a-z”, a journal of progressive art. This became a vehicle for the exposition of Figurative Constructivism.

Seiwert was actively involved in the international discussions concerning proletarian culture during the revolutionary upsurge following the First World War. “Throw out the old false idols! In the name of the coming proletarian culture.”

Seiwert was the leading theorist of Figurative Constructivism describing its origins as “From the expressionist-cubist art-form abstract constructivism was developed, which in turn led into Figurative Constructivism”.

When Hitler came to power in 1933, Seiwert briefly fled to the mountain range Siebengebirge, but his health was badly deteriorating, and friends brought him back to Cologne, where he died on July 3, 1933.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Franz Wilhelm Seiwert (German, 1894-1933) 'Freudlose Gasse' (Joyless Street) 1927

 

Franz Wilhelm Seiwert (German, 1894-1933)
Freudlose Gasse (Joyless Street) (installation view)
1927
Oil on canvas
65.5 x 80cm

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander' at Centre Pompidou, Paris

 

Installation view of the exhibition Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander at Centre Pompidou, Paris showing at left, Kate Diehn-Bitt’s Self Portrait as an Artist (1935, below); at middle, Gert Wollheim’s Untitled (Couple) (1926, below); and at right, Otto Dix’s Portrait of the Jeweller Karl Krall (1923, below).
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

Kate Diehn-Bitt (German, 1900-1978) 'Self Portrait as an Artist' 1935 (installation view)

 

Kate Diehn-Bitt (German, 1900-1978)
Self Portrait as an Artist (installation view)
1935
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

Gert Wollheim (German, 1894-1974) 'Untitled (Couple)' 1926 (installation view)

 

Gert Wollheim (German, 1894-1974)
Untitled (Couple) (installation view)
1926
Oil on canvas
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

 

Gert Heinrich Wollheim (German, 1894-1974)

Gert Heinrich Wollheim (11 September 1894 – 22 April 1974) was a German expressionist painter later associated with the New Objectivity, who fled nazi Germany and worked in the United States after 1947.

Gert Heinrich Wollheim was born in Dresden-Loschwitz. From 1911 to 1913, he studied at the College of Fine Arts in Weimar , where his instructors included Albin Egger-Lienz and Gottlieb Forster. From 1914-1917 he was in military service in World War I, where he sustained an abdominal wound. After the war he lived in Berlin until 1919, when Wollheim, Otto Pankok (whom he had met at the academy in Weimar), Ulfert Lüken, Hermann Hundt and others created an artists’ colony in Remels, East Frisia.

At the end of 1919, Wollheim and Pankok went to Düsseldorf and became founding members of the “Young Rhineland” group, which also included Max Ernst, Otto Dix, and Ulrich Leman. Wollheim was one of the artists associated with the art dealer Johanna Ey, and in 1922 he was taken to court over a painting displayed at her gallery. In 1925, he moved to Berlin, and his work, which always emphasised the theatrical and the grotesque, began a new phase of coolly objective representation. His work was part of the art competitions at the 1928 Summer Olympics and the 1932 Summer Olympics.

After Hitler seized power in 1933 Wollheim’s works were declared degenerate art and many were destroyed. He fled to France and became active in the Resistance. He was one of the co-founders of the Union des Artistes Allemandes Libres, an organisation of exiled German artists founded in Paris in autumn 1937. In that same year, he became the companion of the dancer Tatjana Barbakoff. Meanwhile, in Munich, three of his pictures were displayed in the defamatory Nazi exhibition Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art) in 1937.

From Paris, Wollheim fled to Saarbrücken and later to Switzerland. He was arrested in 1939 and held in a series of labour camps in France (Vierzon, Ruchard, Gurs and Septfonds) until his escape in 1942, after which he and his wife hid in the Pyrénées with the help of a peasant woman. At war’s end in 1945 he returned to France.

In 1947 he moved to New York and became an American citizen. He died in New York in 1974.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Gert Wollheim (German, 1894-1974) 'Untitled (Couple)' 1926

 

Gert Wollheim (German, 1894-1974)
Untitled (Couple)
1926
Oil on canvas

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969) 'Portrait of the Jeweller Karl Krall' 1923 (installation view)

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969)
Portrait of the Jeweller Karl Krall (installation view)
1923
Kunst- und Museumsverein im Von der Heydt-Museum Wuppertal
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

 

When the Nazis came to power in 1933, Dix was dismissed from his professorship teaching art at the Dresden Academy, where he had worked since 1927. The reason given was that, through his painting, he had committed a ‘violation of the moral sensibilities and subversion of the militant spirit of the German people’.

In the years following, some 260 of his works were confiscated by the Nazi Propaganda Ministry. Several of these works, including The Jeweller Karl Krall 1923, appeared in the Entartete Kunst (degenerate art) exhibition of 1937-1938. The exhibition was staged by the Nazis to destroy the careers of those artists they considered mentally ill, inappropriate or unpatriotic.

 

Otto Dix. 'The Jeweller Karl Krall (Der Juwelier Karl Krall)' 1923

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969)
Portrait of the Jeweller Karl Krall (Der Juwelier Karl Krall)
1923
Kunst- und Museumsverein im Von der Heydt-Museum Wuppertal
Photo: Antje Zeis-Loi, Medienzentrum Wuppertal
© DACS 2017

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969) 'Portrait of the Art Dealer Alfred Flechtheim' 1926 (installation view)

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969)
Portrait of the Art Dealer Alfred Flechtheim (installation view)
1926
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

 

Alfred Flechtheim entered the art world as a collector of Far Eastern art. In 1910, he married the daughter of a wealthy Dortmund merchant. This union helped provide him with the means to open a gallery in 1913. On the eve of the First World War, Flechtheim’s gallery was filled with works by the French avant-garde. He had a reputation as Francophile with a particular affection for Cubism. In Düsseldorf, local artists unfairly suggested that he had turned his back on German art. In this unflattering, uncommissioned work by Dix, he is surrounded by Cubist works. He clutches one in one hand and bills in another. To Dix, he’s little more than a salesman in a cheap suit, hawking foreign merchandise for the local Bourgeoisie.

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969) 'Portrait of the Art Dealer Alfred Flechtheim' 1926

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969)
Portrait of the Art Dealer Alfred Flechtheim
1926

 

Julius Bissier. 'Bildhauer mit Selbstbildnis' (Sculptor with Self-portrait) 1928

 

Julius Bissier (German, 1893-1965)
Bildhauer mit Selbstbildnis (Sculptor with Self-portrait)
1928
Oil on canvas
77 x 61cm
Museum für Neue Kunst, Städtische Museen Freiburg, Germany

 

Jeanne Mammen (German, 1890-1976) 'Two Women, Dancing' c. 1928 (installation view)

 

Jeanne Mammen (German, 1890-1976)
Two Women, Dancing
c. 1928
Watercolour and pencil on paper
48 x 36cm
Private Collection, Berlin
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

 

She was born in Germany in 1890, but her family moved to Paris where she enjoyed a carefree and progressive upbringing (including art studies at the Académie Julian, as well as at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels). In 1914, she returned to Germany and, from 1919, worked from a small fourth-floor, two-room living-quarters-cum-studio at Kurfürstendamm 29 in Berlin for more than 60 years, until her death in 1976.

During her lifetime, she gained a reputation beyond Berlin as a chronicler of life in the city, providing for herself largely by designing film posters for the then booming UFA studios and selling her illustrations to fashion and satirical magazines, including Simplicissimus, Uhu and Jugend. Especially during the 20s and 30s, when out and about, she was never without her sketchbook – several of which are included in the exhibition – capturing the goings-on in cafes, bars and on the streets…

In her early years in Berlin, Mammen lived with her sister Mimi. She was close friends with Hans Uhlmann, later visiting him in prison, following his arrest for distributing flyers in 1933, and some posit more than a friendship between the two artists; others, however, in particular the scholar Laurel Lampela, suppose that Mammen may have been more attracted to women, arguing that such intimate and tender paintings of lesbian couples could only have been made from experience.

Whatever the case, Mammen often withdrew from the world entirely, with repeated periods of isolation. She survived the years of dictatorship from 1933-1945 with the help of friends and mini-commissions, as well as by selling used books from a handcart. Although she had the opportunity to seek exile abroad, she did not want to start afresh for a second time in a foreign country. Instead, she lived the life of a recluse, working by candlelight after her building had been bombed, and often scarcely leaving her studio for days at a time. When she did, she noted (in the only interview she ever gave, carried out a year before her death): “I have always wanted to be just a pair of eyes, walking through the world unseen, only to be able to see others.”

Anna McNay. “Jeanne Mammen: The Observer. Retrospective (1910-75),” on the Studio International website 16/12/2017 [Online] Cited 02/08/2022

 

Jeanne Mammen (German, 1890-1976) 'Two Women, Dancing' c. 1928

 

Jeanne Mammen (German, 1890-1976)
Two Women, Dancing
c. 1928
Watercolour and pencil on paper
48 x 36cm
Private Collection, Berlin
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017

 

Jeanne Mammen (1890-1976) 'Valeska Gert' 1928-1929

 

Jeanne Mammen (1890-1976)
Valeska Gert
1928-1929
Oil on canvas

 

Jeanne Mammen (German, 1890-1976) 'Café Nollendorf' c. 1931

 

Jeanne Mammen (German, 1890-1976)
Café Nollendorf
c. 1931
Watercolour and India ink over pencil on paper

 

Georg Scholz (German, 1890-1945) 'The House of Gatekeeper' 1924 (installation view)

 

Georg Scholz (German, 1890-1945)
The House of Gatekeeper (installation view)
1924
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

 

Georg Scholz (German, 1890-1945)

Georg Scholz (October 10, 1890 – November 27, 1945) was a German realist painter.

Scholz was born in Wolfenbüttel and had his artistic training at the Karlsruhe Academy, where his teachers included Hans Thoma and Wilhelm Trübner. He later studied in Berlin under Lovis Corinth. After military service in World War I lasting from 1915 to 1918, he resumed painting, working in a style fusing cubist and futurist ideas.

In 1919 Scholz became a member of the Communist Party of Germany, and his work of the next few years is harshly critical of the social and economic order in postwar Germany. His Industrial Farmers of 1920 is an oil painting with collage that depicts a Bible-clutching farmer with money erupting from his forehead, seated next to his monstrous wife who cradles a piglet. Their subhuman son, his head open at the top to show that it is empty, is torturing a frog. Perhaps Scholz’ best-known work, it is typical of the paintings he produced in the early 1920s, combining a controlled, crisp execution with corrosive sarcasm.

Scholz quickly became one of the leaders of the New Objectivity, a group of artists who practiced a cynical form of realism. The most famous among this group are Max Beckmann, George Grosz and Otto Dix, and Scholz’s work briefly vied with theirs for ferocity of attack. By 1925, however, his approach had softened into something closer to neoclassicism, as seen in the Self-Portrait in front of an Advertising Column of 1926 and the Seated Nude with Plaster Bust of 1927.

In 1925, he was appointed a professor at the Baden State Academy of Art in Karlsruhe, where his students included Rudolf Dischinger. Scholz began contributing in 1926 to the satirical magazine Simplicissimus, and in 1928 he visited Paris where he especially appreciated the work of Bonnard.

With the rise to power of Hitler and the National Socialists in 1933, Scholz was quickly dismissed from his teaching position. Declared a Degenerate Artist, his works were among those seized in 1937 as part of a campaign by the Nazis to “purify” German culture, and he was forbidden to paint in 1939.

In 1945, the French occupation forces appointed Scholz mayor of Waldkirch, but he died that same year, in Waldkirch.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Albert Renger-Patzsch (German, 1897-1966) 'Isolatorenkette' (Chain of insulators) 1925

 

Albert Renger-Patzsch (German, 1897-1966)
Isolatorenkette (Chain of insulators)
1925
Vintage gelatin silver print
27.30 x 37.50cm
Galerie Berinson, Berlin
© Albert Renger-Patzsch Archiv / Ann und Jürgen Wilde, Zülpich / Adagp, Paris, 2022

 

Albert Renger-Patzsch (German, 1897-1966) 'Triebwerk einer Lokomotive' (Engine of a locomotive) 1925

 

Albert Renger-Patzsch (German, 1897-1966)
Triebwerk einer Lokomotive (Engine of a locomotive)
1925
Vintage gelatin silver print
17 x 21.2 cm
Galerie Berinson, Berlin
© Albert Renger-Patzsch Archiv / Ann und Jürgen Wilde, Zülpich / Adagp, Paris, 2022

 

Albert Renger-Patzsch (German, 1897-1966) 'Nockenwelle einer Dampfmaschine' (Camshaft of a steam engine) 1927

 

Albert Renger-Patzsch (German, 1897-1966)
Nockenwelle einer Dampfmaschine (Camshaft of a steam engine)
1927
Gelatin silver print

 

Albert Renger-Patzsch (German, 1897-1966) 'Musterzimmer im Fagus-Werk Benscheidt in Alfeld' (Shoe trees at the Fagus factory, Alfeld) 1928

 

Albert Renger-Patzsch (German, 1897-1966)
Musterzimmer im Fagus-Werk Benscheidt in Alfeld (Shoe trees at the Fagus factory, Alfeld)
1928
Vintage gelatin silver print
16.9 × 22.8cm
Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich
© Albert Renger-Patzsch Archiv / Ann und Jürgen Wilde, Zülpich / Adagp, Paris, 2022

 

Albert Renger-Patzsch (1897-1966) 'Bügeleisen für Schuhfabrikation, Faguswerk Alfeld [Shoemakers' irons, Fagus factory, Alfeld]' 1928

 

Albert Renger-Patzsch (German, 1897-1966)
Bügeleisen für Schuhfabrikation (Irons for shoemaking)
1928
Gelatin silver print
22.7 × 16.9 cm
Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich
© Albert Renger-Patzsch Archiv / Ann und Jürgen Wilde, Zülpich / Adagp, Paris, 2022

 

Anonymous artist. 'Isotype Brochure' Around 1935

 

Anonymous artist
Isotype Brochure
Around 1935
Sheet, front
University of Reading, Otto and Marie Neurath Isotype Collection

 

Anonymous artist. 'Isotype Brochure' Around 1935

 

Anonymous artist
Isotype Brochure
Around 1935
Sheet, front
University of Reading, Otto and Marie Neurath Isotype Collection

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander' at Centre Pompidou, Paris

 

Installation view of the exhibition Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander at Centre Pompidou, Paris showing at right, Grethe Jürgens’s Stoffhändler (Fabric Merchant) (1936, below)
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

 

Grethe Jürgens (German, 1899-1981)

Grethe Jürgens (February 15, 1899 – May 8, 1981) was a German painter associated with the New Objectivity.

Jürgens was born in Holzhausen and grew up in Wilhelmshaven.[1] In 1918 she enrolled in the Berlin Technical College, where she studied architecture. From 1919 until 1922 she studied at the Hanover School of Arts and Crafts under Fritz Burgr-Mühlfeld. She was employed in advertising as a draftswoman for the Hackethal Wire Company in Hanover from 1923 to 1927, and continued afterward to work as a freelance commercial artist. Her paintings from this period, such as Garden Picture (1928) and Employment Exchange (1929), show the influence of French artists such as Henri Rousseau and Auguste Herbin.

From 1931 to 1932, Jürgens edited the 12-issue run of the magazine Der Wachsbogen, which served as a theoretical organ of the Hanover artists of the New Objectivity movement. In an essay she published in the magazine, she described the group’s artistic approach:

“One paints a landscape, trees, houses, vehicles, and sees the world in a new way. Unemployed people, tramps, or beggars are painted, not because they are “interesting characters” … or through a desire to appeal to the sympathy of society, but because one suddenly realizes that it is in these people that the most powerful expression of the present time is to be found.”

.
In 1932, she participated in the exhibition “Neue Sachlichkeit in Hanover” (“New Objectivity in Hanover”) at the Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum in Brunswick. In 1933 she had a solo exhibition in Cologne. After 1933, she worked extensively as an illustrator and designer of book covers. In 1951, the Wilhelm Busch Museum in Hanover presented a retrospective exhibition of her works. Jürgens died in 1981 in Hanover.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Grethe Jürgens (German, 1899-1981) 'Stoffhändler' (Fabric Merchant) 1936

 

Grethe Jürgens (German, 1899-1981)
Stoffhändler (Fabric Merchant)
1936

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander' at Centre Pompidou, Paris

 

Installation view of the exhibition Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander at Centre Pompidou, Paris showing at left, Lotte Laserstein’s Russian Girl with Compact (1928, below); and at right, Rudolf Schlichter’s Margot (1924, below)
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

Lotte Laserstein (German-Swedish, 1898-1993) 'Russian Girl with Compact' 1928

 

Lotte Laserstein (German-Swedish, 1898-1993)
Russian Girl with Compact (Russisches Mädchen mit Puderdose)
1928
Oil on panel
31.7 x 41cm
Städel Museum
Acquired in 2014 with means provided by the Werner Wirthle bequest

 

 

With a critical gaze, the Russian Girl with Compact examines her face in her pocket mirror. Her other hand is holding a fluffy powder puff. Facing the viewer, she is nonetheless interested only in what is hidden from our view. And yet the viewer still gets to see the young woman’s reflection, in the profile of her in the mirror on the wall. This duplication heightens her presence, as does the red colour of her elegant blouse. Lotte Laserstein repeatedly painted different types of women. Here, she portrays a modern woman of the 1920s: her bob hairstyle, clothing and use of make-up point to this new type of emancipated woman.

Text from the Städel Museum website

 

Lotte Laserstein (28 November 1898 – 21 January 1993) was a German-Swedish painter. She was an artist of figurative paintings in Germany’s Weimar Republic. The National Socialist regime and its anti-Semitism forced her to leave Germany in 1937 and to emigrate to Sweden. In Sweden, she continued to work as a portraitist and painter of landscapes until her death. The paintings she created during the 1920s and 1930s fit into the movement of New Objectivity in Germany.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

 

Rudolf Schlichter (German, 1890-1955) 'Margot' 1924

 

Rudolf Schlichter (German, 1890-1955)
Margot
1924

 

Bernhard Dörries (German, 1898-1978) 'Breakfast Still Life' 1927 (installation view)

 

Bernhard Dörries (German, 1898-1978)
Breakfast Still Life (installation view)
1927
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

 

Bernhard Dörries (German, 1898-1978)

Bernhard Dörries ( May 26, 1898 in Hanover – July 15, 1978 in Bielefeld ) was a German painter and art writer .

Bernhard Dörries was a son of the Protestant theologian Bernhard Dörries (1856-1934), his older brother was the church historian Hermann Dörries (1895-1977).

In 1917 Dörries studied architecture at the Technical University of Hanover, but through Kurt Schwitters he began painting and studied at the Art Academy in Berlin. During study visits he got to know Italy, Spain and France. From 1924 he became a board member of the Kunstverein Hannover. In 1933 Dörries joined the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP). At the Paris World Exhibition of 1937 he won a “Grand Prix” for a portrait of a girl. After the death of Georg Schrimpf in 1938, he received a professorship at the Art Academy in Berlin, which he held until the end of the Second World War held. From 1937 to 1944, Dörries was represented with 10 paintings at seven major German art exhibitions in Munich.

After the war, Dörries lived in Langenholtensen near Northeim until 1949 and then in Hanover. In 1955 he became a professor again at the Berlin University of the Arts and retired in 1970. From 1973 he was a member of the German Association of Artists.

Text translated from the German Wikipedia website

 

Bernhard Dörries (German, 1898-1978) 'Breakfast Still Life' 1927

 

Bernhard Dörries (German, 1898-1978)
Breakfast Still Life
1927

 

Gert Heinrich Wollheim (German, 1894-1974) 'Abshied von Düsseldorf' (Farewell from Dusseldorf) 1924 (installation view)

 

Gert Heinrich Wollheim (German, 1894-1974)
Abshied von Düsseldorf (Farewell from Dusseldorf) (installation view)
1924
Oil on canvas
Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

 

Gert Heinrich Wollheim (German, 1894-1974)

Gert Heinrich Wollheim (11 September 1894 – 22 April 1974) was a German expressionist painter later associated with the New Objectivity, who fled Nazi Germany and worked in the United States after 1947.

Gert Heinrich Wollheim was born in Dresden-Loschwitz. From 1911 to 1913, he studied at the College of Fine Arts in Weimar , where his instructors included Albin Egger-Lienz and Gottlieb Forster. From 1914-1917 he was in military service in World War I, where he sustained an abdominal wound. After the war he lived in Berlin until 1919, when Wollheim, Otto Pankok (whom he had met at the academy in Weimar), Ulfert Lüken, Hermann Hundt and others created an artists’ colony in Remels, East Frisia.

At the end of 1919, Wollheim and Pankok went to Düsseldorf and became founding members of the “Young Rhineland” group, which also included Max Ernst, Otto Dix, and Ulrich Leman. Wollheim was one of the artists associated with the art dealer Johanna Ey, and in 1922 he was taken to court over a painting displayed at her gallery. In 1925, he moved to Berlin, and his work, which always emphasised the theatrical and the grotesque, began a new phase of coolly objective representation. His work was part of the art competitions at the 1928 Summer Olympics and the 1932 Summer Olympics.

After Hitler seized power in 1933 Wollheim’s works were declared degenerate art and many were destroyed. He fled to France and became active in the Resistance. He was one of the co-founders of the Union des Artistes Allemandes Libres, an organisation of exiled German artists founded in Paris in autumn 1937. In that same year, he became the companion of the dancer Tatjana Barbakoff. Meanwhile, in Munich, three of his pictures were displayed in the defamatory Nazi exhibition Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art) in 1937.

From Paris, Wollheim fled to Saarbrücken and later to Switzerland. He was arrested in 1939 and held in a series of labor camps in France (Vierzon, Ruchard, Gurs and Septfonds) until his escape in 1942, after which he and his wife hid in the Pyrénées with the help of a peasant woman. At war’s end in 1945 he returned to France.

In 1947 he moved to New York and became an American citizen. He died in New York in 1974.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Wall text from the exhibition Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander at Centre Pompidou, Paris

 

Wall text from the exhibition Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander at Centre Pompidou, Paris

 

Gert Heinrich Wollheim (German, 1894-1974) 'Abshied von Düsseldorf' (Farewell from Dusseldorf) 1924

 

Gert Heinrich Wollheim (German, 1894-1974)
Abshied von Düsseldorf (Farewell from Dusseldorf)
1924
Oil on canvas
Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969) 'Karton zum "Groβstadt-Triptychon"' (Cartoon for "The Grande Ville triptych") 1927-1928 (installation view)

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969)
Karton zum “Groβstadt-Triptychon” (Cartoon for “The Grande Ville triptych”) (installation view)
1927-1928
Charcoal, chalk, pencil, sanguine, gouache on drawing paper laid down on tile
3 panels
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

Wall text from the exhibition Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander at Centre Pompidou, Paris

 

Wall text from the exhibition Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander at Centre Pompidou, Paris

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969) Karton zum "Groβstadt-Triptychon" (Cartoon for "The Grande Ville triptych") 1927-1928 (installation view detail)

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969)
Karton zum “Groβstadt-Triptychon” (Cartoon for “The Grande Ville triptych”) (installation view detail)
1927-1928
Charcoal, chalk, pencil, sanguine, gouache on drawing paper laid down on tile
3 panels
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969) Karton zum "Groβstadt-Triptychon" (Cartoon for "The Grande Ville triptych") 1927-1928 (installation view detail)

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969)
Karton zum “Groβstadt-Triptychon” (Cartoon for “The Grande Ville triptych”) (installation view detail)
1927-1928
Charcoal, chalk, pencil, sanguine, gouache on drawing paper laid down on tile
3 panels
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969) Karton zum "Groβstadt-Triptychon" (Cartoon for "The Grande Ville triptych") 1927-1928 (installation view detail)

 

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969)
Karton zum “Groβstadt-Triptychon” (Cartoon for “The Grande Ville triptych”) (installation view detail)
1927-1928
Charcoal, chalk, pencil, sanguine, gouache on drawing paper laid down on tile
3 panels
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

Georg Scholz (German, 1890-1945) 'Weiblicher Akt auf dem Sofa' (Female nude on the sofa) 1928

 

Georg Scholz (German, 1890-1945)
Weiblicher Akt auf dem Sofa (Female nude on the sofa)
1928
Oil on canvas

 

Hans Grundig (German, 1901-1958) 'Am Stadtrand' (On the outskirts) 1926

 

Hans Grundig (German, 1901-1958)
Am Stadtrand (On the outskirts)
1926
Oil on canvas

 

 

Hans Grundig (German, 1901-1958)

Hans Grundig (February 19, 1901 – September 11, 1958) was a German painter and graphic artist associated with the New Objectivity movement.

He was born in Dresden and, after an apprenticeship as an interior decorator, studied in 1920–1921 at the Dresden School of Arts and Crafts. He then studied at the Dresden Academy from 1922 to 1923. During the 1920s his paintings, primarily portraits of working-class subjects, were influenced by the work of Otto Dix. Like his friend Gert Heinrich Wollheim, he often depicted himself in a theatrical manner, as in his Self-Portrait during the Carnival Season (1930).

He had his first solo exhibition in 1930 at the Dresden gallery of Józef Sandel. He made his first etchings in 1933.

Politically anti-fascist, he joined the German Communist Party in 1926, and was a founding member of the arts organisation Assoziation revolutionärer bildender Künstler in Dresden in 1929.

Following the fall of the Weimar Republic, Grundig was declared a degenerate artist by the Nazis, who included his works in the defamatory Degenerate Art exhibition in Munich in 1937. He expressed his antagonism toward the regime in paintings such as The Thousand Year Reich (1936). Forbidden to practice his profession, he was arrested twice – briefly in 1936, and again in 1938, after which he was interned in Sachsenhausen concentration camp from 1940 to 1944.

In 1945 he went to Moscow, where he attended an anti-fascist school. Returning to Berlin in 1946, he became a professor of painting at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts. In 1957 he published his autobiography, Zwischen Karneval und Aschermittwoch (“Between Shrovetide carnival and Ash Wednesday”). He was awarded the Heinrich Mann Prize in Berlin in 1958, the year of his death.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Hanna Nagel (German, 1907-1975) 'Untitled (Bare-Breasted Woman in Front of a Printing Press)' 1929

 

Hanna Nagel (German, 1907-1975)
Untitled (Bare-Breasted Woman in Front of a Printing Press)
1929
Graphite and watercolour on paper
46 x 60.5cm

 

 

Hanna Nagel (German, 1907-1975)

The daughter of a merchant and a teacher, Hanna Nagel was trained as a bookbinder before enrolling in the Fine Arts School in Karlsruhe in 1919. In an institution that had set up a lithographic and engraving studio at the beginning of the century, the young artist naturally turned towards these techniques, in which she demonstrated great skill. She took courses with Walter Conz, Wilelm Schnarrenberger and, most importantly, Karl Hubbuch, head of the Baden branch of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity), the post-war German movement that advocated for a realist representation of the contemporary world. This began the first period in the artist’s work: she followed the example of her professor in terms of themes, highly social content, as well as in her bold and sharp style, which was generally unflattering for models. However, contrary to K. Hubbuch, she chose to treat her figures alone, isolated in their environment, giving them a strange presence (Zigeunerin (gypsy), Munich, 1928; Mädchen mit Blauem Mantel (girl in blue coat), 1929). In 1929, she moved to Berlin, where she took courses with Hans Meid and Emil Orlik at the Fine Arts Academy. She married the painter Hans Fischer in 1931. This marked the end of her realist period.

Marie Gispert. “Hanna Nagel,” on the AWARE (Archives of Women Artists Research & Exhibitions) website 2013 [Online] Cited 04/08/2022. From the Dictionnaire universel des créatrices. Translated from French by Katia Porro. © 2013 Des femmes – Antoinette Fouque © Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions

 

Christian Schad (German, 1894-1982) 'Graf St. Genois d'Anneaucourt' 1927 (installation view)

 

Christian Schad (German, 1894-1982)
Graf St. Genois d’Anneaucourt (installation view)
1927
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

Christian Schad (German, 1894-1982) 'Graf St. Genois d'Anneaucourt' 1927

 

Christian Schad (German, 1894-1982)
Graf St. Genois d’Anneaucourt
1927

 

Christian Schad (German, 1894-1982) 'Anna Gabbioneta' 1927

 

Christian Schad (German, 1894-1982)
Anna Gabbioneta
1927
Oil on canvas

 

Christian Schad (German, 1894-1982) 'Bildnis Dr. Haustein' (Portrait of Dr. Haustein) 1928

 

Christian Schad (German, 1894-1982)
Bildnis Dr. Haustein (Portrait of Dr. Haustein)
1928
Oil on canvas

 

Willi Müller-Hufschmid (German, 1890-1966) 'Akademie modell' (Academic model) c. 1922

 

Willi Müller-Hufschmid (German, 1890-1966)
Akademie modell (Academic model)
c. 1922
Oil on paper on plywood

 

 

Willi Müller-Hufschmid studied from 1908 at the Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe. During this time he got to know Rudolf Schlichter, Georg Scholz and other painters from the “Rih” group. He became known as a representative of the New Objectivity towards the end of the 1920s. In the 1950s he turned to abstract painting.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander' at Centre Pompidou, Paris

 

Installation view of the exhibition Germany / 1920s / New Objectivity / August Sander at Centre Pompidou, Paris showing at left, Georg Scholz’s Kacteen und Semaphore (Cacti and semaphores) (1923, below); at centre, Rudolf Dischinger’s Grammophon (Gramophone) (1930, below); and at right, Franz Xaver Fuhr’s Stillleben (Gummibaum) (Still life (Rubber tree)) (c. 1925, below)
Photo: Aubrey Perry

 

Georg Scholz (German, 1890-1945) 'Kacteen und Semaphore' (Cacti and semaphores) 1923

 

Georg Scholz (German, 1890-1945)
Kacteen und Semaphore (Cacti and semaphores)
1923
Oil on hardboard

 

Franz Xaver Fuhr (German, 1898-1973) 'Stillleben (Gummibaum)' (Still life (Rubber tree)) c. 1925

 

Franz Xaver Fuhr (German, 1898-1973)
Stillleben (Gummibaum) (Still life (Rubber tree))
c. 1925
Oil on canvas

 

 

Franz Xaver Fuhr (German, 1898-1973)

Franz Xaver Fuhr was born in Mannheim-Neckarau on 23 September 1898. As a painter Fuhr was an autodidact. Obeying his father’s wishes, he learned the painter’s trade. When Fuhr presented his watercolours at the Mannheim “Kunsthalle” for appraisal, the “Kunsthalle” immediately bought several works. As a token of his high esteem of Fuhr’s work the director of the Kunsthalle, Gustav Hartlaub, offered the artist financial support as well as a studio and an apartment in the Mannheim palace.

The artist exhibited watercolours in the autumn exhibition at the Berlin Akademie in 1927 as well as at the Gallery Nierendorf in 1928. Exhibitions in Danzig, Königsberg, Düsseldorf and Lübeck followed.

Fuhr was admitted to the “Deutscher Künstlerbund” and participated regularly in the association’s exhibitions. A sign of public appraisal was the award of the Prize of the “Preußische Akademie” and the Villa-Romana-Prize in 1930 and 1931. During this period Fuhr’s work is characterised by a delicate, flowing colour combined with a grid-like, austere linearity which structures the composition. The artist consistently elaborated this compositional principle during the early 1930s. His works became less austere for the benefit of a more painterly aspect. The deteriorating economic situation and the effects of National Socialist cultural politics also effected Fuhr. The “Städtische Kunsthalle” took his works off show as early as 1934 and three years later 23 of his works were confiscated in German museums. Several works were shown in the exhibition “Degenerate Art”. Fuhr was banned from pursuing his profession.

When his apartment in Mannheim was hit during an air-raid in 1943 the painter decided to leave his home town. He moved to Nabburg, where he stayed until 1950, and then took up residence in Regensburg. The painter was appointed professor at the “Akademie der Bildenden Künste” in Munich in 1946, a post which he held for 20 years.

Franz Xaver Fuhr retreated during the last years of his life and died on 16 December 1973.

Anonymous text. “Franz Xaver Fuhr,” on the Art Directory website Nd [Online] Cited 03/08/2022

 

Rudolf Dischinger (German, 1904-1988) 'Grammophon' (Gramophone) 1930

 

Rudolf Dischinger (German, 1904-1988)
Grammophon (Gramophone)
1930
Oil on plywood

 

 

Rudolf Dischinger studied at the Baden State Art School with Georg Scholz and Karl Hubbuch. In 1927 he graduated from school with the drawing teacher examination and worked as a teacher in Freiburg until 1939. During this time he painted urban landscapes and still lifes in the New Objectivity style. From 1939 until he was wounded in 1942 he was a soldier in France and Russia. From 1946 he lived again as a freelance artist in Freiburg. There he taught at the art academy until it was closed in 1954. He then worked again in school until his retirement in 1965. In 1976 he received the Reinhold Schneider Prize of the City of Freiburg. After 1945 he started abstract painting. In his last years he turned back to representational painting.

 

Alexander Kanoldt (German, 1881-1939) 'Stillleben mit Gitarre' (Still Life with Guitar) 1926

 

Alexander Kanoldt (German, 1881-1939)
Stillleben mit Gitarre (Still Life with Guitar)
1926
Oil on canvas

 

 

Alexander Kanoldt (German, 1881-1939)

Alexander Kanoldt (29 September 1881 – 24 January 1939) was a German magic realist painter and one of the artists of the New Objectivity. …

Alexander Kanoldt was born on 29 September 1881 in Karlsruhe in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. His father was the painter Edmund Kanoldt [de], a late practitioner of the Nazarene style.

After studies at the Academy of Fine Arts Karlsruhe he went to Munich in 1908, where he met a number of modernists such as Alexej von Jawlensky, Wassily Kandinsky and Gabriele Münter. He became a member of the Munich New Secession in 1913, with Jawlensky and Paul Klee.

After military service in World War I from 1914 to 1918, the still lifes Kanoldt painted show the influence of Derain and an adaptation of cubist ideas.

By the early 1920s Kanoldt developed the manner for which he is best known, a magic realist rendering of potted plants, angular tins, fruit and mugs on tabletops. He also painted portraits in the same severe style, as well as geometrical landscapes. In 1925 he was made a professor at Breslau Academy, a post he held until 1931. During this time he came into conflict with the Bauhaus faction at the Academy, and he was increasingly at odds with the avant garde. From 1933 until his resignation in 1936 he was the director of the State School of Art in Berlin.

With the rise of the Nazi regime in 1933 Kanoldt attempted accommodation, painting in a romantic style, but nonetheless many of his works were seized by the authorities as degenerate art in 1937. He died in Berlin on 24 January 1939.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Franz Lenk (1898-1968) 'Amaryllis' 1930

 

Franz Lenk (German, 1898-1968)
Amaryllis
1930
Egg tempera on canvas on wood
66 x 44cm

 

 

Franz Lenk (German, 1898-1968)

Franz Lenk (June 21, 1898 Langenbernsdorf, Germany – September 13, 1968 Schwäbisch Hall, Germany) was a landscape artist and co-founder of the group “The Seven”.

After an apprenticeship as a decorative painter and lithograph from 1912 to 1915, Franz Lenk studied at the Dresden Academy in 1916. Lenk was drafted for military service, and after from 1922 onwards he continued his studies. In 1928, Lenk was co-founder of the “Die Sieben” group and in 1929 Lenk was a member of the Berlin Artists’ Association, a member of the Berlin Secession in 1936, and a member of the Prussian Academy of Arts in 1937.

From 1933 to 1936 Franz Lenk was a member of the presidential council of the Reichskammer der bildenden Künste. Also in 1933, he was appointed professor to the United States School in Berlin. In 1937, Lenk denied his participation in the Great German Art Exhibition at the House of German Art and laid down his lecture at the United State School in protest against the defamation of his colleagues and against the repressive “art policy” in the “Third Reich”.

In 1950, he received a teaching assignment at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh. In 1959, Lenk settled in Schwäbisch Hall, where he became the city’s cultural commissioner.

Anonymous text. “Lenz, Frank,” on the Hundertmarkartfair website Nd [Online] Cited 03/08/2022

 

Franz Lenk (German, 1898-1968) 'Stillleben mit gelber Tüte' (Still life with a yellow bag ) 1927

 

Franz Lenk (German, 1898-1968)
Stillleben mit gelber Tüte (Still life with a yellow bag)
1927
Mixed technique on canvas

 

Oskar Nerlinger (German, 1893-1969) 'Straßen der Arbeit' (Labour routes) 1930

 

Oskar Nerlinger (German, 1893-1969)
Straßen der Arbeit (Labour routes)
1930
Tempera on cardboard

 

Karl Völker (German, 1889-1962) 'Beton' c. 1924

 

Karl Völker (German, 1889-1962)
Beton
c. 1924
Oil on canvas

 

Karl Völker (German, 1889-1962) 'Industriebild' (Picture of Industry) 1924

 

Karl Völker (German, 1889-1962)
Industriebild (Picture of Industry)
1924
Oil on canvas

 

Karl Völker (German, 1889-1962) 'Bahnhof' (Train station) 1924-1926

 

Karl Völker (German, 1889-1962)
Bahnhof (Train station)
1924-1926
Oil on wood

 

 

Centre Pompidou 
75191 Paris cedex 04
Phone: 00 33 (0)1 44 78 12 33

Opening hours:
Wednesday – Monday 11am – 9pm

Centre Pompidou website

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top

26
Mar
22

Exhibition: ‘The Paris of Brassaï. Photographs of the City Picasso Loved’ at the Museo Picasso Málaga

Exhibition dates: 19th October 2021 – 3rd April 2022

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984) 'Steps of Montmartre with a white dog, Paris' 1932

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Steps of Montmartre with a white dog, Paris
1932
Gelatin silver print
30 x 40cm
Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris
© Estate Brassaï Succession-Philippe Ribeyrolles

 

 

A quick text today as I’m still not well with bronchitis.

I really struggled to get images for this posting, the museum supplying 12 of the 21 photographs while I gathered the rest after seeing an installation image from the exhibition and deciphering further images from the preview to the catalogue of the exhibition on the Amazon website.

If you are interested in the subject matter – photographs of an environment where Picasso was in his element, a volcano at the epicentre of a vibrant, creative city – then I think the catalogue would be the way to go… but at close to $100 for just 152 pages the cost might seem a little excessive.

My favourite images in the posting are the two atmospheric photographs of Picasso’s sculptures in his studios.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to the Museo Picasso Málaga for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984) 'A chair in the Luxembourg Gardens, Paris' 1947

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
A chair in the Luxembourg Gardens, Paris
1947
Gelatin silver print
23 x 17.5cm
Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris
© Estate Brassaï Succession-Philippe Ribeyrolles

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984) 'Luxembourg Gardens basin, Paris' 1930

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Luxembourg Gardens basin, Paris
1930
Gelatin silver print
29.6 x 22.3cm
Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris
© Estate Brassaï Succession-Philippe Ribeyrolles

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984) 'Au Cochon Limousin' 1935

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
‘Au cochon limousin’, rue Lecourbe, Paris
1935
Gelatin silver print, modern copy
29.8 x 22.9cm
Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris
© Estate Brassaï Succession-Philippe Ribeyrolles

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984) 'Fat Claude and her girlfriend at Le Monocle, Paris' c. 1932

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Fat Claude and her girlfriend at Le Monocle, Paris
c. 1932
Gelatin silver print
27.6 x 22.1cm
Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris
© Estate Brassaï Succession-Philippe Ribeyrolles

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984) 'Kiki with her accordion player at the Cabaret des Fleurs, Rue de Montparnasse' c. 1932

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Kiki with her accordion player at the Cabaret des Fleurs, Rue de Montparnasse
c. 1932
Gelatin silver print
© Estate Brassaï Succession-Philippe Ribeyrolles

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984) 'Trapeze artists, Medano Circus' 1932

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Trapeze artists, Medano Circus
1932
Gelatin silver print
© Estate Brassaï Succession-Philippe Ribeyrolles

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984) 'Colonne Morris dans le Brouillard' 1933

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Colonne Morris dans le Brouillard
1933
Gelatin silver print
© Estate Brassaï Succession-Philippe Ribeyrolles

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984) 'Self-portrait, Boulevard Saint-Jacques, Paris' 1930-1932

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Self-portrait, Boulevard Saint-Jacques, Paris
1930-1932
Gelatin silver print
29.6 x 22.9cm
Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris
© Estate Brassaï Succession-Philippe Ribeyrolles

 

 

  • The exhibition The Paris of Brassaï. Photographs of the City Picasso Loved, presented by Museo Picasso Málaga, shows the work of one of the most famous European photographers of the first half of the 20th century. With his work, Brassaï helped to create the universal public image of Paris, the Eternal City. It is displayed here alongside works by Pablo Picasso, Pierre Bonnard, Georges Braque, Lucien Clergue, Fernand Léger, Dora Maar and Henri Michaux, and with period piece films, posters, sheet music and a large quantity of documentary material.
  • Brassaï’s photographs invite the viewer to wander through Paris, with its river Seine, Notre Dame, its brothels and its markets. His conjured up a superb depiction of society in his many shots of the intellectual, literary, and artistic scene of 1930s and 1940s Paris, ranging from Sartre to Beckett.
  • This exhibition has been organised with sponsorship from Fundación Unicaja and the special collaboration of Estate Brassaï succession, Paris; Institut Français, Seville, and Musée national Picasso-Paris. It sheds light on the professional relationship and friendship between Brassaï and Picasso, who considered Brassaï to be the best photographer of his work.

.
Brassaï arrived in Paris from Hungary in 1924. Little by little, he discovered the dynamic nature and the social idiosyncrasies of the great metropolis. While he initially explored the city’s nightlife, over time he began to create a precise X-ray of its architecture and its people. He joined the fascinating intellectual and artistic avant-garde community of which Picasso was a member, becoming one of its finest eyewitness photographers. But Brassaï was not just a photographer, he was also a versatile artist who drew, made sculptures, decorated, and made films.

As a photographer, Brassaï constructed a visual topography of the city of light (and shadows) in the 1930s and 40s, but this exhibition also aims to show him as a prolific creative artist. The Paris of Brassaï. Photographs of the City Picasso Loved features over 300 works, with photographs, drawings and sculptures that come mainly from the Brassaï family archives (Estate Brassaï Succession). Also on display are photographs and artworks by Pablo Picasso, alongside works by Pierre Bonnard, Georges Braque, Lucien Clergue, Fernand Léger, Dora Maar and Henri Michaux.

Films, posters, musical scores, theatre programmes and a large quantity of documentary material from the Paris of that period, make up an exhibition that takes the visitor back to an unforgettable city and time.

The structure of the exhibition comprises four sections that relate to film, the visual arts, literature, and music, based on the photographic work of one of the most famous photographers of the first half of the 20th century. The exhibition layout begins with Who is Brassaï? which displays artistic works whose main feature is their expressive freedom. Paris by Day features scenes from everyday life as if they were being shown for the first time: Paris by Night is a journey through a city of shadows that evokes the melancholy that emanated from the streets and characters. Conversations with Picasso brings together work by the two artists who enjoyed a long-lasting professional and personal relationship.

 

The Eye of Paris

Brassaï was the pseudonym of Gyula Halász (1899-1984), a Hungarian photographer who was best known for his work on Paris, the city where he made his career. When he was three years old, his family moved to the French capital, in the year that his father, a professor of literature, was teaching at the Sorbonne. As a young man, Brassaï studied painting and sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest, before joining the Cavalry of the Austro-Hungarian army during the First World War. In 1920, he went to live in Berlin to work as a journalist and to study at the University of the Arts. In 1924, he moved back to Paris, where he remained for the rest of his life. He soon made friends with writers Henry Miller (who described him in one of his books as “the eye of Paris”), León-Paul Fargue and Jacques Prévert. Inspired by his frequent night-time walks around Paris, Gyula Halász asked to borrow a camera to capture the beauty of the streets and gardens in the rain and fog. He used poetic metaphors in these pictures, leading more than one graphic reporter to describe him as a poet with a camera. He then began to sign his work with the pseudonym Brassaï. It means “the man from Brasso”, his birthplace, which is now part of Romania.

In the 1930s, Paris was by no means a feast. Various events were leaving their mark on a new age, with major financial and political repercussions. The decade began with one of the greatest financial crises the world had ever experienced: the Great Depression. This was to lead to the collapse of the financial system and to poverty for thousands of families. Europe was facing the possibility of new wars and uprisings that would lead to the rise of totalitarianism. Culture and art were not blind to these events, but art dealers and artists were irresistibly drawn to Paris, seeking in the City of Light a new artistic and personal life that matched their ideals, along with the necessary freedom to make them happen.

Brassaï’s photographic work during these years helped to construct the image we have today of the French capital, with its depictions of artistic, social and intellectual life. He took X-ray-like shots of the great city, during the day and at night, from its dark alleyways to it dazzling social and artistic scene. The exhibition The Paris of Brassaï. Photographs of the City Picasso Loved shows the modern, cosmopolitan city par excellence, in a Europe that bore the hallmarks of the great changes brought about by 19th-century industry and by the international exhibitions of the early 20th-century. It was a city that Brassaï loved, as did his colleague and friend, Pablo Picasso.

 

Night Walks

In 1932 he published his first photographic book, “Paris de Nuit”. It contained high-contrast night shots with full bleed and no margins that feature the play of light and shadow, taken on streets, squares, rooftops, street corners, gardens, buildings and monuments. During his nocturnal wanderings, smoking cigarette after cigarette, the gaslights, fog and car headlights lit up a unique Paris, transforming its rigorously classical architecture and capturing the strange beauty of the fleeting shadows. His negatives became black and white photographs with a strong sense of mystery. They are pictures that alter your perception of the familiar. “Paris de Nuit” was a cultural sensation and a well-deserved success that caught the attention of leading art magazines such as Minotaure, one of the most important cultural publications of the time.

Brassaï liked to say that his birthplace was very close to that of Count Dracula, and that, like him, he was a nocturnal creature. For this reason, in several of his unforgettable photobooks he showed an alternative Paris, with scenes in brothels and bars where young gay men, lesbians and transvestites are all seen having fun. They also contain scenes from the city’s social life, high society, and intellectual circles.

 

Portraying the Intellectual Circles

The photographer himself described 1932 and 1933 as the most important years of his life. It was during these years that he met the key figures of Parisian cultural life, many of whom were also foreigners, and he evolved alongside the intellectual milieu and the artistic avant-garde movements that were flourishing in Paris at the time.

His earliest works coincided with the rise of Surrealism in France. The movement believed that photography encouraged a division of the poetic personality simultaneously into subject and object. But although his pictures display the same attraction to the dreamworld expressed by the surrealists, and his series on graffiti indicates his interest in the wonder of random discovery and the primitive world, Brassaï always denied belonging to the movement. His photographs, based on the traditional realist style, are evocative images that condense the atmosphere of a brief moment, without becoming documentary photography.

Brassaï was part of the Paris intellectual circle, as was Picasso, at a time when art was flourishing. He took photographs of artists who were to become the sacred monsters of our age, many of whom were his friends: Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Alberto Giacometti, as well as leading writers of the time such as Jean Genet and Henri Michaux. His portraits reveal his great skill at capturing the personality of his sitters, creating a collective portrait of the intellectual circle.

 

On the Walls of Paris

Brassaï was the first person in the history of modern photography to intuitively consider the camera as a tool with which to dissect urban life. “The eye of Paris”, as Henry Miller dubbed him in one of his essays, also directed his gaze at the drawings, marks and doodles on Paris walls. He came across these popular anonymous signs and imprints on walls during his walks along Parisian alleyways: faces, symbols, animals, handprints, the scratched-on outlines of sketches… They were captivatingly primitive, and he elevated them to the status of “Art Maudit” or Damned Art because, for him, they were more than just ways for people to express themselves.

Over the years, Brassaï compiled a catalogue of the marks that the capital’s inhabitants left on its walls, with photos that no editor would publish, until at last they were collected together in a book, Graffiti (1961), after Edward Steichen declared his admiration for this work and his intention of organising an exhibition at MoMA in New York. When Brassaï immortalised these street pictures, the term graffiti had not yet been coined, and it was not until the 1980s that it finally became classified as Urban or Street Art.

Brassaï was a prolific creative artist who also produced drawings and sculptures, wrote numerous articles and published 17 books. His film Tant qu’il y aura des bêtes won the award for the best original short film at the Cannes Film Festival in 1956, and in 1978 he won France’s Grand Prix National de la Photographie.

 

Brassaï / Picasso. A Friendship

Photography constantly accompanied Picasso, not only as a testimony to his life, but often revealing his personality, work and inner circle. Of all the many relationships he struck up in Paris with writers, essayists, playwrights and visual artists, the Museo Picasso Málaga exhibition focuses on the close and prolific professional relationship between Brassaï and Pablo Picasso.

In December. 1932, the art critic Tériade invited Brassaï to take pictures of Picasso, his studio and his sculptures, to illustrate the first issue of Minotaure. This collaboration led to a long and sincere friendship that was sustained by mutual admiration. Brassaï was fascinated by Picasso’s personality, and Picasso admired the photographer’s unbiased gaze. The two friends were both foreigners in the big city: one of them was to become one of the great photographers of the 20th century, and the other, the great artist who changed the history of art. They shared an extraordinary gift for observation, as well as great curiosity. They both collected strange objects that had been thrown away and found again by chance, and they shared a keen interest in primitive art, art brut, bones, poetry and graffiti. They also had a common dislike of focussing on a single discipline, in their urge to explore other creative fields.

This obvious and very special complicity meant that Brassaï became an exceptional witness to Picasso’s private world: the places where he created art, the works themselves, his family life and his friends. Brassaï was one of the few people Picasso allowed free access to his studios, and he was the first to photograph his sculptures. The Málaga-born artist opened the doors of his studios to him in Boisgeloup, La Boétie and Grands Augustins, successively. Brassaï had a great sense of detail, he knew how to put order into disorder, and he composed his photographs in an almost architectural way, giving a new dimension to the works Picasso created and the objects and materials with which he surrounded himself.

One of the most important books in terms of getting to know Picasso, is Brassaï’s Conversations with Picasso (1964), a fascinating text that is outstanding for the immediacy and detail of a man who wrote in the same way he took pictures. This chronicle, which Brassaï illustrated with over 50 photographs, runs from September 1943 – eleven years after he first met Picasso – to September 1962. It provides us with two decades-worth of the artist’s story and, above all, of an environment where Picasso was the epicentre, while at the same time describing the history of art and the main events of those years. The relationship between Brassaï and Picasso remained intact until the Spaniard’s death in 1973. Brassaï died in the South of France in 1984 and was buried in Montparnasse cemetery, in the city that both he and Picasso loved.

For the occasion, Museo Picasso Málaga and La Fábrica have jointly published the photobook Brassaï (Paris & Picasso), which contains 105 full-page photographs and an excerpt from the text in which Henry Miller dubbed Brassaï “The eye of Paris”. This bi-lingual hardback edition is printed on coated paper, to highlight the photographs’ half-tones and nuances of light and shade. The book is now available to purchase from the Museo Picasso Málaga bookshop and is due to be distributed to Spanish, European and US bookshops.

Press release from the Museo Picasso Málaga

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984) 'The fireplace in Pablo Picasso's studio, Rue La Boétie' 1932

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
The fireplace in Pablo Picasso’s studio, Rue La Boétie
1932
Gelatin silver print
© Estate Brassaï Succession-Philippe Ribeyrolles

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984) 'Pablo Picasso in the studio on Rue la Boétie, in front of the portrait of Yadwigha by Henri Rousseau, Paris' 1932

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Pablo Picasso in the studio on Rue la Boétie, in front of the portrait of Yadwigha by Henri Rousseau, Paris
1932
Gelatin silver print
28.1 x 21.8cm
Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris
© Estate Brassaï Succession-Philippe Ribeyrolles

 

 

“When I enter the studio, I leave my body at the door… I only allow my spirit to go in there and paint”

.
Pablo Picasso

 

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984) 'Plaster sculptures in Pablo Picasso's studio, Boisgeloup' December 1932

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Plaster sculptures in Pablo Picasso’s studio, Boisgeloup
December 1932
Gelatin silver print
© Estate Brassaï Succession-Philippe Ribeyrolles

 

 

In 1930, Picasso acquires a house and land near Gisors, Normandy, with the aim of creating monumental sculptures. Of those he creates there, La femme au vase (Woman with Vase), a piece from 1933, stands out for its great symbolic weight, given that it is placed on the artist’s tomb in the Château of Vauvenargues. But it is above all the busts of Marie-Thérèse Walter, his young secret lover, who both Brassaï and Boris Kochno capture with their respective lenses in attempts to recreate the peculiar atmosphere of that country studio, inhabited by strange creatures. While Kochno’s report is that of an amateur, Brassaï’s is a commission for the first issue of Minotaure art magazine, from 1933, accompanying a text by André Breton, “Picasso dans son élément” (Picasso in his Element), which reveals Picasso as a sculptor, a facet of his work that was completely unknown until then.

Anonymous text from the Museo Picasso website Nd [Online] Cited 11/03/2022

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984) 'Weekend, Paris' 1936

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Weekend, Paris
1936
Gelatin silver print
© Estate Brassaï Succession-Philippe Ribeyrolles

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984) 'Man with Ram (1943), Bust of Dora Maar (1941) and Seated Cat (1941-1943) by Pablo Picasso, Paris' 1943

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Man with Ram (1943), Bust of Dora Maar (1941) and Seated Cat (1941-1943) by Pablo Picasso, Paris
1943
Gelatin silver print
30 x 20.7cm
Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris
© Estate Brassaï Succession-Philippe Ribeyrolles
© Sucesión Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Málaga, 2021

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984) 'Pablo Picasso at the window of his studio on the Rue des Grands Augustins, Paris' 1939

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Pablo Picasso at the window of his studio on the Rue des Grands Augustins, Paris
1939
Gelatin silver print
© Estate Brassaï Succession-Philippe Ribeyrolles

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'Ile de la Cité – vue de Notre-Dame de Paris' Paris, 26 February 1945

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Ile de la Cité – vue de Notre-Dame de Paris
Paris, 26 February 1945
Oil on canvas
80 x 120cm
Museum Ludwig, Cologne
© Rheinisches Bildarchiv Cologne
© Sucesión Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Málaga, 2021

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984) 'Detail of the plaster sculpture Woman with Leaves (Pablo Picasso, 1934) in the studio on the rue des Grands- Augustins, Paris' 1943

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Detail of the plaster sculpture Woman with Leaves (Pablo Picasso, 1934) in the studio on the rue des Grands Augustins, Paris
1943
Gelatin silver print
27.7 x 22.1cm
Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris
© Estate Brassaï Succession-Philippe Ribeyrolles
© Sucesión Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Málaga, 2021

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) 'Woman with Leaves, Boisgeloup' 1934

 

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Woman with Leaves, Boisgeloup
1934
Original plaster varnished
38.5 x 27.5 x 21cm
Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte, Madrid
On temporary loan to the Museo Picasso Málaga
© Sucesión Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Málaga, 2021

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984) 'Circumstantial Magic. Sprouting Potato' 1931

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Circumstantial Magic. Sprouting Potato
1931
Gelatin silver print
© Estate Brassaï Succession-Philippe Ribeyrolles

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984) 'The Sun King, Paris' 1930-1950

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
The Sun King, Paris
1930-1950
From the Graffiti series
Gelatin silver print
40 x 29.5cm
Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris
© Estate Brassaï Succession-Philippe Ribeyrolles

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984) 'Le Poussin' 1955

 

Brassaï (Hungarian-French, 1899-1984)
Le Poussin
1955
From the Graffiti series
Gelatin silver print
© Estate Brassaï Succession-Philippe Ribeyrolles

 

 

Museo Picasso Málaga
Palacio de Buenavista C/ San Agustín, 8
29015 Málaga, Spain

Opening hours:
Daily 10am – 7pm

Museo Picasso Málaga website

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top

20
Feb
22

Exhibition: ‘Man Ray: The Paris Years’ at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia

Exhibition dates: 30th October 2021 – 20th February 2022

Curator: Dr. Michael Taylor, VMFA’s Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Art and Education

 

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'Self-Portrait with Camera' 1930

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Self-Portrait with Camera
1930
Solarised gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York, Photography Acquisitions Committee Fund, Horace W. Goldsmith Fund, and Judith and Jack Stern Gift
© Man Ray 2015 Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris 2021

 

 

I remember many many years ago (2004) the National Gallery of Victoria held a major exhibition of the work of Man Ray, the first large-scale exhibition of Man Ray’s photography to have been presented in Australia. The exhibition was organised by the Art Gallery of New South Wales where it set an attendance record for photography exhibitions, with over 52,000 visitors, before travelling to Brisbane and Melbourne – which exhibitions did in those days between state capitals, alas no longer.

All these years later I still remember being impressed by the technical, almost scientific element – and elemental – aspect of Man Ray’s photography, the sheer intensity of his images, and their small, jewel-like size. I was less impressed by the lack of feeling the photographs gave me, as though the photographs were scientific experiments which emphasised “his techniques of framing, cropping, solarising and use of the photogram in order to present a new, ‘surreal’ way of seeing” and which, to my young photographic eyes, saw their lush and enigmatic beauty subsumed in an unemotional technical exercise.

Concentrating on his portrait photographs during his Paris years, this exhibition includes more than 100 portrait photographs made by the artist in Paris between 1921 and 1940. “In choosing portraits for the exhibit, the curator’s objective was to present the complete picture of Man Ray’s pantheon of cultural luminaries… “Since this exhibition is all about storytelling, we wanted to highlight the femme moderne and tell the public of their fierce individuality and creativity,” [Michael] Taylor says, explaining that the women’s inclusion makes for a more dynamic and meaningful exhibition. “These are musicians, models and performers whose contributions have been marginalized due to the legacy of colonialism and racism.” … The portraits chosen for “Man Ray: the Paris Years” reflect not only the staggering range of techniques Ray employed during his Parisian years, but also the fascinating people who inhabited his world. “Innovative, groundbreaking, experimental and completely original, Ray’s portraits are unlike the work of any of his contemporaries,” Taylor says.”1

But to my mind Man Ray’s other photography during this period, such as his 1922 album Champs Délicieux which contained 12 Dada inspired Rayographs (some of his first), his surreal photographic solarisations and his portfolio, Électricité (Electricity) (1931) are more expressive and revolutionary avant-garde statements of the creative power of photography than ever his portraits are.

And while his portrait photographs may be experimental and groundbreaking – all about technique – are they good portraits? That’s the key question. To my eyes his portraits have a “lumpy” quality to them, a kind of enigmatic blankness that never reveals much of the sitters personality. The doll-like beauty of Kiki de Montparnasse (c. 1924, below) becomes a later abstract wistfulness both photographs revealing nothing; a tough, shielded Gertrude Stein (at Home) (1922, below) is not a patch on Imogen Cunningham’s engaging, challenging portrait of 1934; and the portrait of Elsie Houston (1933, below) is just plain uncomfortable in its placement of the bandaged head and hand in the pictorial frame.

Apparently, Man Ray “was in league with the surrealists and, in even his most classical-seeming portraits, revealed a predilection for unexpected juxtapositions, visual rhymes and piercing expressions that can transport you instantaneously to the lip of a volcanic unconscious.” Allegedly.

A volcanic unconscious. Who writes this stuff? I often feel I am looking at different photographs than the ones other people are writing about. Again, “Man Ray’s photography doesn’t simply capture the image of a person, or the ghost that inhabits them. It captures the whole of creative expression – the surreal and sorrowful, the conflict and music, the desperation and freedom that comprise the human narrative.” No it doesn’t… I don’t even think he is a very good portrait photographer! Compared to a Weston, Sander or Lange, a Stieglitz, Arbus or Julia Margaret Cameron, Man Ray’s portraits are modestly proficient evocations at best.

“To be ‘done’ by Man Ray and Berenice Abbott meant that you rated as somebody,” wrote Sylvia Beach, owner of Shakespeare and Company, the legendary bookstore and lending library established in Paris after World War I by the American expatriate. You had made it… immortalised in the negative, promoted in the positive. There is the key. To be worthy, to be “fashion” able. After all, Man Ray was running a commercial photographic studio with Berenice Abbott as his assistant in order to make a living. After Man Ray fired her in 1926 Abbott set up her own studio and they became business rivals.

The two most enticing portrait photographs in the posting are both wistful visages of the female: the slightly out of focus, low depth of field beauty of the direct Lee Miller, an ex-lover of Man Ray, staring down the desiring male gaze, like the most glamorous and scientifically symmetrically perfect “mug shot” you have ever seen; and the soft sfumato (which translated literally from Italian means “vanished or evaporated”) background to the contemporary Mona Lisa that is the vulnerable, tender Berenice Abbott surrounded by vanished shadows and evaporated space. “Leonardo has studied the sky, the elements, the atmosphere, and the light. He takes the approach of a scientist, but translates it into the painting with superb delicacy and finesse. For him the painting doesn’t count. What counts is the knowledge,” observes Louvre Curator Jean-Pierre Cuzin.2

Science, knowledge and atmosphere. Only in this portrait of Berenice Abbott does Man Ray take his love of science and knowledge and approach what Preston Duncan observes: “It is through this aperture that we find the abiding sense that, in all the weight, the struggle, the limitations of our physical form, is an ongoing moment of release.”

A final thought emerges in my consciousness. I wondered whether there is a photograph of Man Ray by Berenice Abbott? Not that I can find…

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

  1. Karen Newton. “Storytelling Portraits,” on the Style Weekly website August 31, 2021 [Online] Cited 20/02/2022
  2. Anonymous text. “…Leonardo’s masterful technique,” on the PBS Treasures of the World website [Online] Cited 20/02/2022

.
Many thankx to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

“The story of Man Ray and Paris has been told, but it’s usually been told through the lens – pardon the pun, it’s a photography show – of Man Ray’s innovations; the Rayograph, Solarization, his friendships, and his network. But what about the subjects?” says Chief Curator, Dr. Michael Taylor. “We took inspiration from the photograph on the cover of this show. It’s the first work you see in the exhibition. This is actually Man Ray taking your portrait. In other words, […] even though it’s called a self-portrait, a camera is photographing him, but he is looking at you with his camera. So we started to think about not just telling Man Ray’s story, which is fascinating, but the story of the sitters, the subjects, the models. …

While the primary focus of the exhibit is on portraiture and the radical expressiveness of his subjects – from the vanguards of femme moderne culture to aerialists in drag – there are some detours into avant-garde Rayography and cinema. This diversity of expression is resonant with Man Ray’s professional dedication to dismantling boundaries – those of gender, race, and national identity, as well as artistic traditionalism and aesthetic philosophy. …

Man Ray’s photography doesn’t simply capture the image of a person, or the ghost that inhabits them. It captures the whole of creative expression – the surreal and sorrowful, the conflict and music, the desperation and freedom that comprise the human narrative. It is through this aperture that we find the abiding sense that, in all the weight, the struggle, the limitations of our physical form, is an ongoing moment of release. It confronts us with the fact we are all winging this strange dance, contributing our solitary note to an overture that is entirely improvised, sharing in the simple hope that we may, for an instant, hear the enormity of the score.”

.
Preston Duncan. “The View From Paris,” on the RVA website November 3, 2021 [Online] Cited 02/02/2022

 

All the men of the age are there: Igor Stravinsky, James Joyce, Andre Breton, Picasso and Braque. Equally present are the era’s modern women, including Bernice Abbott, the rarely-as-well-photographed Gertrude Stein, Lee Miller and Virginia Woolf. The real stars, however, are the unknowns. Or rather, those unknown-to-us. “Man Ray used photography to challenge the artistic traditions and break boundaries, including fixed gender roles and racial barriers,” says Michael Taylor, the museum’s chief curator, who conceived the exhibition.

.
Daniel Cassady. “‘Paris’s glowing milieu spills onto every corner’: Virginia show theatrically tells the story of Man Ray’s fruitful time in the City of Lights,” on The Art Newspaper website 11 November 2021 [Online] Cited 03/02/2022

 

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'Kiki de Montparnasse' c. 1924

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Kiki de Montparnasse
c. 1924
Gelatin silver print
Francis M. Naumann Fine Art, New York
© Man Ray 2015 Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris 2021

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'Kiki de Montparnasse' c. 1929

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Kiki de Montparnasse
c. 1929
Gelatin silver print
© Man Ray 2015 Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris 2021

 

 

Alice Ernestine Prin (French, 1901-1953)

Alice Ernestine Prin (2 October 1901 – 29 April 1953), nicknamed the Queen of Montparnasse, and often known as Kiki de Montparnasse, was a French artist’s model, literary muse, nightclub singer, actress, memoirist and painter. She flourished in, and helped define, the liberated culture of Paris in the 1920s.

Alice Prin was born in Châtillon-sur-Seine, Côte d’Or. An illegitimate child, she was raised in abject poverty by her grandmother. At age twelve, she was sent to live with her mother in Paris in order to find work. She first worked in shops and bakeries, but by the age of fourteen, she was posing nude for sculptors, which created discord with her mother.

Adopting a single name, “Kiki”, she became a fixture in the Montparnasse social scene and a popular artist’s model, posing for dozens of artists, including Sanyu, Chaïm Soutine, Julian Mandel, Tsuguharu Foujita, Constant Detré, Francis Picabia, Jean Cocteau, Arno Breker, Alexander Calder, Per Krohg, Hermine David, Pablo Gargallo, Mayo, and Tono Salazar. Moïse Kisling painted a portrait of Kiki titled Nu assis, one of his best known.

Her companion for most of the 1920s was Man Ray, who made hundreds of portraits of her. She can be considered his muse at the time and the subject of some of his best-known images, including the surrealist image Le violon d’Ingres and Noire et blanche (see below).

She appeared in nine short and frequently experimental films, including Fernand Léger’s Ballet mécanique without any credit.

A painter in her own right, in 1927 Prin had a sold-out exhibition of her paintings at the Galerie au Sacre du Printemps in Paris. Signing her work with her chosen single name, Kiki, she usually noted the year. Her drawings and paintings comprise portraits, self-portraits, social activities, fanciful animals, and dreamy landscapes composed in a light, slightly uneven, expressionist style that is a reflection of her easy-going manner and boundless optimism. …

A symbol of bohemian and creative Paris and of the possibility of being a woman and finding an artistic place, at the age of twenty-eight she was declared the Queen of Montparnasse. Even during difficult times, she maintained her positive attitude, saying “all I need is an onion, a bit of bread, and a bottle of red [wine]; and I will always find somebody to offer me that.”

She left Paris to avoid the occupying German army during World War II, which entered the city in June 1940. …

Prin died in 1953 after collapsing outside her flat in Montparnasse, at the age of fifty-one, apparently of complications of alcoholism or drug dependence. A large crowd of artists and fans attended her Paris funeral and followed the procession to her interment in the Cimetière parisien de Thiais. Her tomb identifies her as “Kiki, 1901-1953, singer, actress, painter, Queen of Montparnasse.” Tsuguharu Foujita has said that, with Kiki, the glorious days of Montparnasse were buried forever.

Long after her death, Prin remains the embodiment of the outspokenness, audacity, and creativity that marked that period of life in Montparnasse. She represents a strong artistic force in her own right as a woman. In 1989, biographers Billy Klüver and Julie Martin called her “one of the century’s first truly independent women.” In her honour, a daylily has been named Kiki de Montparnasse.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Man Ray. 'Noire et Blanche' 1926

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Noire et Blanche
1926
Gelatin silver print
6 7/8 x 8¼ in. (17.5 x 21cm)
© Man Ray 2015 Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris 2021

As far as I know this photograph is NOT in the exhibition

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'Gertrude Stein (at Home)' 1922

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Gertrude Stein (at Home)
1922
Gelatin silver print
7 15/16”H × 6 1/16”W (20.16 × 15.4cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Endowment
© Man Ray 2015 Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris 2021

 

Imogen Cunningham (American, 1883-1976) 'Gertrude Stein, Writer' 1934

 

Imogen Cunningham (American, 1883-1976)
Gertrude Stein, Writer
1934
Gelatin silver print
Image: 7 9/16 × 6 11/16 in.
Frame: 22 5/8 x 16 5/8 x 1 3/8 in.
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'Berenice Abbott' 1921, printed later

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Berenice Abbott
1921, printed later
Gelatin silver print
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Endowment
© Man Ray 2015 Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris 2021

 

 

In 1926 Peggy Guggenheim, who often lent her financial support to the Paris colony of artists and writers, telephoned Man Ray to arrange a studio appointment to have her portrait taken, not by Man Ray himself, but by Berenice. Afterwards Man Ray was livid, he now realised that Berenice had become a serious business rival, and the next day he fired her. Berenice immediately made plans to have a studio of her own and friends of Berenice stepped forward to help her. When she made arrangements to purchase a view camera – Peggy Guggenheim lent her the money to pay for it. As partial repayment, Berenice later photographed Peggy’s children. In 1926, she had her first solo exhibition (in the gallery “Au Sacre du Printemps”) and started her own studio on the rue du Bac.

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'Wallis Simpson with Chinese Sculpture' 1936

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Wallis Simpson with Chinese Sculpture
1936
Gelatin silver print
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Endowment
© Man Ray 2015 Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris 2021

 

Photographed during the year in which her liaison with Edward VIII became public and he abdicated the throne of the British Empire.

 

 

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts announces its upcoming exhibition, Man Ray: The Paris Years, on view in Richmond from October 30, 2021, through February 21, 2022. Organised by Dr. Michael Taylor, VMFA’s Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Art and Education, the exhibition includes more than 100 compelling portrait photographs made by the artist in Paris between 1921 and 1940, featuring cultural luminaries such as Barbette, André Breton, Jean Cocteau, Marcel Duchamp, Ernest Hemingway, Miriam Hopkins, James Joyce, Henri Matisse, Méret Oppenheim, Alice Prin (Kiki de Montparnasse), Elsa Schiaparelli, Erik Satie, Wallis Simpson and Gertrude Stein.

The son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, Emmanuel “Manny” Radnitzky grew up in New York and adopted the pseudonym Man Ray around 1912. A timely sale of paintings to Ferdinand Howald, an art collector from Columbus, Ohio, provided Man Ray with funds for a trip to Paris, and he arrived in the French capital on July 22, 1921. Although the artist worked in a variety of media over the next two decades, including assemblage, film, sculpture and painting, photography would be his primary means of artistic expression in Paris.

Shortly after moving to France, Man Ray embarked on a sustained campaign to document the international avant-garde in a series of remarkable portraits that established his reputation as one of the leading photographers of his era. Man Ray’s portraits often reflect a dialogue or negotiation between the artist’s vision and the self-fashioning of his subjects. Whether they had their portrait taken to promote their work, affirm their self-image, project their desires, fulfil their dreams or create a new identity, Man Ray’s sitters were not inanimate objects, like blocks of marble to be shaped and coerced, but were instead highly creative cultural and thought leaders who were active participants in the creative act. By telling the stories of his respective sitters and the innovative techniques he used to create their portraits, Man Ray: The Paris Years empowers the subjects portrayed in these photographs and gives them an agency and voice that is not typically realised in monographic accounts of modern artists.

“Timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the artist’s arrival in the French capital and, coincidentally, the near-centennial anniversary of the Spanish flu pandemic, Man Ray: The Paris Years will prove to be a visually provocative and especially relevant exhibition,” said Alex Nyerges, VMFA’s Director and CEO. “This is an opportunity to better understand the lives of his subjects and see Man Ray in a different light.”

“Man Ray used photography to challenge artistic traditions and break boundaries, including fixed gender roles and racial barriers,” said Taylor. “His portraits went beyond recording the mere outward appearance of the person depicted and aimed instead to capture the essence of his sitters as creative individuals, as well as the collective nature and character of Les Années folles (the crazy years) of Paris between the two world wars.”

Man Ray’s radical portraits also capture an important constituency of the avant-garde at this time, namely the femme moderne (modern woman). Adventurous, ambitious, assertive, daring, enterprising and self-assured modern women like American photographers Berenice Abbott and Lee Miller, French artist Suzanne Duchamp and American sculptor Janet Scudder took full advantage of their unprecedented freedom and access to educational and professional opportunities to participate as equals to their male counterparts in the Parisian avant-garde. Although these women came from different classes and economic backgrounds, they shared a collective goal in the 1920s and 1930s to be creatively, financially and intellectually independent.

“Rejecting traditional gender roles and expectations, modern women were interested in erasing sexual differences,” said Taylor. “They often embraced the symbolic trappings and autonomy of their male counterparts including wearing men’s clothes, driving fast cars, smoking cigarettes and sporting tightly cropped ‘bobbed’ haircuts.”

The exhibition also tells the important stories of Black subjects such as Henry Crowder, Adrienne Fidelin and Ruby Richards, whose contributions have often been unfairly relegated to the margins of modernism due to the legacy of colonialism and racism. The artist’s series of portraits of the dancer and singer Ruby Richards, who was born in St. Kitts in the British West Indies and grew up in Harlem, New York, brings to light an important performer whose work with Man Ray has never been acknowledged in previous accounts of his work. Richards moved to Paris in 1938 to replace the legendary African American performer Josephine Baker as the star attraction at the Folies Bergère, and the famous cabaret music hall commissioned Man Ray to help introduce her to French audiences through his portrait photographs.

Many of the subjects portrayed in Man Ray’s photographs were born in Spanish-speaking countries such as Argentina, El Salvador, Peru and Spain, including famous modern artists like Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso, as well as the flamenco dancer Prou del Pilar and the pianist Ricardo Viñes. As a state art museum that has free general admission and is open 365 days a year, VMFA is committed to representing the cultural and linguistic diversity of our community. According to recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 7 percent of Virginia’s 8.5 million residents speak Spanish at home. This data has informed the museum’s decision to incorporate dual-language labels throughout the Man Ray: The Paris Years exhibition, as well as the audio tour and gallery guide. Recognising that English is not the native language of everyone who visits the exhibition, VMFA is offering content in both Spanish and English to create a more accessible, inclusive and welcoming experience for all of our visitors.

Informed by extensive archival research, this exhibition and accompanying catalogue offers a more complete account of Man Ray’s Paris years by focusing not just on his achievement as a photographer and his superb gifts as a portraitist, but also on the friendships and exchange of ideas that took place between the artist and his subjects in Paris between the two world wars.

Press release from VMFA

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'Nusch Éluard and Sonia Mossé' 1937

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Nusch Éluard and Sonia Mossé
1937
Gelatin silver print
© Man Ray 2015 Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris 2021

 

 

Mossé was a surrealist artist and performer in a lesbian cabaret.

 

Ray’s double portraits are among his most spellbinding. Two feature Nusch Éluard, the actress, acrobat and hypnotist’s assistant who married the surrealist poet Paul Éluard. One shows Nusch with the openly bisexual actress, singer, surrealist and model Sonia Mossé. Taken in 1937, the photograph trembles with the intimacy and uncanniness of the culminating scenes in Ingmar Bergman’s “Persona,” where the face of Bibi Andersson begins to merge with that of Liv Ullmann. …

To try to square Man Ray’s magical, tender double portrait with Mossé’s subsequent life, as sketched in by Taylor in the catalogue, is to feel the 20th century – stretched to breaking point by the contrary forces of personal liberation and vicious repression – suddenly snap, like the shutter of a camera taking a photograph no one can bear to look at.

Mossé, writes Taylor, was romantically involved with the French dramatist Antonin Artaud. Best known for conceptualising the Theater of Cruelty movement, Artaud had tried to break off their relationship in 1939 “via handwritten malediction” (a letter in which he wrote curses – e.g., “You will live dead” – in an envelope containing drawings and burned holes).

But Mossé would never receive it. War had broken out. And on Feb. 11, 1943, Mossé and her stepsister Esther were denounced as Jews to the Gestapo. They were taken to the Drancy internment camp in a northeastern suburb of Paris and then to the Sobibór extermination camp in occupied Poland, where Mossé was murdered in a gas chamber.

Sebastian Smee. “Glamour, gossip, sex, scandal: Man Ray’s portraits captured Paris between the wars,” on The Washington Post website November 9, 2021 [Online] Cited 03/02/2022

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'Igor Stravinsky' 1925

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Igor Stravinsky
1925
Gelatin silver print
© Man Ray 2015 Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris 2021

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'Picasso in His Studio on the rue de La Boëtie, Paris' 1922

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Picasso in His Studio on the rue de La Boëtie, Paris
1922
Gelatin silver print
© Man Ray 2015 Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris 2021

 

 

The American Surrealist Man Ray made a number of portraits of Picasso over the years, beginning with this photograph that appeared in the July 1922 issue of Vanity Fair. It was taken on the second floor of Picasso’s apartment at 23 rue de La Boëtie in Paris, where he established a studio in November 1918 and completed many of the Cubist paintings that form the background of this portrait. Man Ray’s portrait brilliantly captures both sides of Picasso’s personality at this time, since the proud and successful artist is also shown to be emotionally distant and seemingly uncomfortable with his newfound wealth and fame.

Text from the Philadelphia Museum of Art website

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'Constantin Brancusi' 1925

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Constantin Brancusi
1925
Gelatin silver print
9 1/4 x 10 1/4″ (23.5 x 26cm)
© Man Ray 2015 Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'Ruby Richards with Feathers' 1938

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Ruby Richards with Feathers (installation view)
1938
Gelatin silver print

 

 

Ruby Richards (aka The Black Pearl) was a singer and dancer born in Saint Christopher Island (Saint Kitts) in the West Indies.

In 1938 the dancer and singer moved to Paris to replace Josephine Baker as the star attraction at the Folies Bergère. The famous cabaret music hall commissioned Man Ray to help introduce Richards to French audiences through his innovative portrait photographs.

 

 

Louis Jordan Soundie: Fuzzy Wuzzy

Featuring Louis Jordan and His Tympany Band with dancer Ruby Richards (recorded on New Year’s Eve 1942).

 

Man Ray. 'Ruby Richards' 1938

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Ruby Richards (installation view)
1938
Gelatin silver print

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'Ruby Richards with Diamonds' c. 1938

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Ruby Richards with Diamonds
c. 1938
Gelatin silver print
Collection of Michael and Jacky Ferro, Miami
© Man Ray 2015 Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris 2021)

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'Self-Portrait With Adrienne Fidelin' 1937

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Self-Portrait With Adrienne Fidelin
1937
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
© Man Ray 2015 Trust/Artists Rights Society, New York/ADAGP, Paris 2021

 

 

He called her his “little black sun.” Born in Guadeloupe, Adrienne Fidelin was the American artist’s partner in Paris before World War II tore them apart. She appears in almost 400 of the renowned artist’s photographs, and in 1937 became the first Black model to be featured in a leading U.S. fashion magazine. However, she was pushed to the sidelines of history. …

Man Ray himself only mentions Fidelin fleetingly in his autobiography. This marginalisation continues today, despite current efforts to recognise the stories of people of colour throughout history…

Adrienne Fidelin was born on March 4, 1915, in Pointe-à-Pitre. At the age of 13, she lost her mother in a hurricane that devastated Guadeloupe, and her father died a few years later. The orphaned teenager joined other members of her family living in Paris in the early 1930s. At the time, the French capital was under the thrall of the Colonial Exposition and obsessed with France’s far-flung colonies. At the Bal Blomet, a cabaret in the 15th arrondissement, the West Indian diaspora and the artistic avant-garde partied to the sounds of Creole biguine music, and Fidelin joined a Guadeloupean dance company.

This is most likely where she and Man Ray first set eyes on each other. She was 19, he was 44. In a diary entry dated December 29, 1934, the artist simply wrote “Ady.” Wendy Grossman discovered this valuable evidence of their first meeting in the Man Ray archives at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. The following year, he wrote down her number (“Odéon 79-95”) and photographed her wearing a simple white tank top. The artist and the dancer were inseparable. On May 13, 1937, Man Ray combined their names in a tender Surrealist pairing, writing “Manady” and “Adyman” in his diary. …

On September 15, 1937, a full-page portrait photo of Fidelin taken by Man Ray was published in the U.S. magazine Harper’s Bazaar – a first in segregated America. However, captured “wearing a tiger-tooth necklace, an ivory arm bracelet, and a Belgian Congo headdress, and adopting a seductive pose, Fidelin was presumed to represent the sensual African ‘native’ identified in the article’s title,” writes Wendy Grossman. “The article shows how the Surrealist movement exoticised ‘the other.'”

Man Ray found a partner in Fidelin, but their relationship was asymmetrical. “She stops me from sinking into pessimism,” he wrote. “She does everything: shining my shoes, making me breakfast, and painting the backdrops on my large canvases.” Fidelin also danced in the “negro clubs” on the Champs-Elysées and worked with photographers and directors looking for “exotic girls.” …

The couple was torn apart when the Wehrmacht entered Paris in June 1940. After trying – and failing – to flee to the Côte d’Azur together, Man Ray returned to the United States alone. The lovers continued writing each other for a few months, but the war severely impacted the postal service and Man Ray soon fell in love with another dancer in Hollywood. Fidelin remained in Paris, married another man in 1957, and died in a retirement home a few miles outside Albi in Southern France [February 5, 2004].

Clément Thiery. “Adrienne Fidelin, Man Ray’s Forgotten Muse,” on the Fance-Amérique website February 2, 2022 [Online] Cited 03/02/2022

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'Adrienne Fidelin with washboard' 1937

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Adrienne Fidelin with washboard
1937
Gelatin silver print
29.8 x 23cm
Collection Musée Picasso
© Man Ray 2015 Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

As far as I know this photograph is NOT in the exhibition

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'James Joyce' 1922

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
James Joyce
1922
Gelatin silver print
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Endowment
© Man Ray 2015 Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris 2021

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'James Joyce' (portrait for "Ulysses") 1922

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
James Joyce (portrait for “Ulysses”)
1922
Gelatin silver print
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Endowment
© Man Ray 2015 Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris 2021

 

 

If, in the early 1920s, you happened to walk into Shakespeare and Company, the legendary bookstore and lending library established in Paris after World War I by the American expatriate Sylvia Beach, you would have noticed that the walls were covered with photographic portraits by Man Ray and Berenice Abbott.

“To be ‘done’ by Man Ray and Berenice Abbott meant that you rated as somebody,” wrote Beach. The habitues of Shakespeare and Company famously included such somebodies as Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Hilda Doolittle and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

In 1922, Beach commissioned Ray (1890-1976) to make a publicity photograph of James Joyce, the Irish novelist whose book “Ulysses” she was about to publish (to her everlasting glory). That same year, Ray photographed Marcel Proust on his deathbed (below).

Sebastian Smee. “Glamour, gossip, sex, scandal: Man Ray’s portraits captured Paris between the wars,” on The Washington Post website November 9, 2021 [Online] Cited 03/02/2022

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'Marcel Proust on His Deathbed' 1922

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Marcel Proust on His Deathbed
1922
Gelatin silver print
Mark Kelman, New York
© Man Ray 2015 Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris 2021

 

 

“It comes so soon, the moment when there is nothing left to wait for.” ~ Marcel Proust

 

Ravaged by bronchitis and pneumonia, Marcel Proust spent the last night of his life dictating manuscript changes for a section of his famous novel Remembrance of Things Past.

Man Ray did not know Proust, but he had become such an important photographer that mutual friends dispatched him to the celebrated French author’s bedside to make a final portrait two days after his death. The side view associates Man Ray’s photograph with a tradition of postmortem photography dating back to the inception of the medium.

Text from the J. Paul Getty Museum website

 

At the urging of his friend Jean Cocteau, Man Ray rushed to photograph the author of Remembrance of Things Past on his deathbed. In the October / November issue of Les Nouvelles Littéraires, Cocteau wrote:

Those who have seen this profile of calm, of order, of plenitude, will never forget the spectacle of an unbelievable recording device come to a stop, becoming an art object: a masterpiece of repose next to a heap of notebooks where our friend’s genius continues to live on like the wristwatch of a dead soldier.

Text from the Metropolitan Museum of Art website

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'Elsie Houston' 1933

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Elsie Houston
1933
Gelatin silver print
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Endowment
© Man Ray 2015 Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris 2021

 

 

“Houston sang Brazilian folk songs by candlelight in Paris. She moved to New York in 1939, where she performed as a possessed woman muttering “voodoo” incantations and playing the drums. She died in her home in 1943, an empty vial of sleeping pills by her bedside. In Ray’s photograph, her smile is soft. Her head tilts in line with her elongated hand. That hand is adorned with a piece of jewellery in the shape of a spotted disc, which rhymes with her hoop earring and the arches of her eyebrows. The cool, clean contrasts of her white turban and dark clothes make the portrait one of Ray’s finest.”

Sebastian Smee. “Glamour, gossip, sex, scandal: Man Ray’s portraits captured Paris between the wars,” on The Washington Post website November 9, 2021 [Online] Cited 03/02/2022

 

Elsie Houston (Brazilian, 1902-1943)

Elsie Houston (22 April 1902 – 20 February 1943) was a Brazilian singer.

Houston figured in the Brazilian literary/art/music scene during a critical time in its history. It was an era of tremendous creative energy. In addition to Mário de Andrade and Pagu, Houston knew others famous members of this artists movement, including the composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, the painters Flavio de Carvalho, Anita Malfatti and Tarsila do Amaral, and the leader of Brazilian modernism, Oswald de Andrade.

Houston moved to Germany and studied with Lilli Lehmann a renowned voice teacher. She then studied with another famed soprano, Ninon Vallin, first in Argentina and then in Paris. Houston’s relationship with Heitor Villa Lobos began in her teens. Houston was definitely a soloist at Villa Lobos’s 1927 Paris concerts. In 1928 she married Benjamin Péret, French surrealist poet, with whom she lived in Brazil from 1929 to 1931. Their son, Geyser, was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1931.

By the late 1930s, Houston had moved to New York City. She was a brilliant singer, particularly skilled in the interpretation of Brazilian songs. The New York Times during this era praised for her performances. She was also an active supporter of young Latin American composers, performing early pieces by composers such as Jayme Ovalle and Camargo Guarnieri.

She died in 1943. Her death was listed as an apparent suicide.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

 

Ravel – Sur l’herbe – Elsie Houston (1930s)

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'Lee Miller' 1929

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Lee Miller
1929
Gelatin silver print
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Endowment
© Man Ray 2015 Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris 2021

 

 

Ray learned from the history of painting as much as from other photographers. He borrowed from Rembrandt’s tenebrism (his dramatic use of engulfing shadow), the slanting light and perspectival structure in Vermeer’s interiors, and the directness of Hans Holbein (strong light on the face, minimal backgrounds). But of course, he was in league with the surrealists and, in even his most classical-seeming portraits, revealed a predilection for unexpected juxtapositions, visual rhymes and piercing expressions that can transport you instantaneously to the lip of a volcanic unconscious.

Ray’s 1929 portrait of Lee Miller is a good example – surely one of the most mesmerising photographic portraits ever taken. What is the source of its uncanny power? It’s not just that Miller – herself a great photographer who for several years was Ray’s lover – is so beautiful; or that her direct gaze is simultaneously so trusting and challenging; or even that her unblemished skin and the symmetry of the whole composition suggest something impossibly pristine and inviolate. It’s because the image is slightly out of focus. The effect of the blur is to slow one’s response, as smoke rings slow the mind – and to trigger a dream state.

Sebastian Smee. “Glamour, gossip, sex, scandal: Man Ray’s portraits captured Paris between the wars,” on The Washington Post website November 9, 2021 [Online] Cited 03/02/2022

 

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Emak Bakia (Leave Me Alone)
1926

 

 

But you may be less familiar with some of Ray’s other subjects, including Germaine Tailleferre, the female composer who changed her name from Taillefesse, Taylor writes, “partly to spite her father, who refused to support her musical studies, but also because she disliked the connotations of the name Taillefesse, which translates as buttock in English”; Janet Scudder, an American sculptor, whose partner was the children’s author and suffragist Marion Cothren; and Barbette (below), the high-wire performer who presented as a graceful woman, but at the end of her act removed her wig and revealed herself as a man.

Personae like these – and Ray’s always inventive approach to their portraits – make this show more than just a roll call of famous names. They make it revelatory. The show is further enhanced by the inclusion of Ray’s wonderful 1926 film, “Emak-Bakia” (he called it a “cinépoème”), and a portfolio of semiabstract photographs he made for a Paris Electricity Co. marketing campaign. Both are remarkable.

Sebastian Smee. “Glamour, gossip, sex, scandal: Man Ray’s portraits captured Paris between the wars,” on The Washington Post website November 9, 2021 [Online] Cited 03/02/2022

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'Barbette' 1926

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Barbette
1926
Gelatin silver print
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Endowment
© Man Ray 2015 Trust/Artists Rights Society

 

 

Vander Clyde Broadway (American, 1899-1973)

Vander Clyde Broadway (December 19, 1899 – August 5, 1973), stage name Barbette, was an American female impersonator, high-wire performer, and trapeze artist born in Texas. Barbette attained great popularity throughout the United States but his greatest fame came in Europe and especially Paris, in the 1920s and 1930s.

Barbette began performing as an aerialist at around the age of 14 as one-half of a circus act called The Alfaretta Sisters. After a few years of circus work, Barbette went solo and adopted his exotic-sounding pseudonym. He performed in full drag, revealing himself as male only at the end of his act.

Following a career-ending illness or injury (the sources disagree on the cause), which left him in constant pain, Barbette returned to Texas but continued to work as a consultant for motion pictures as well as training and choreographing aerial acts for a number of circuses. After years of dealing with chronic pain, Barbette committed suicide on August 5, 1973. Both in life and following his death, Barbette served as an inspiration to a number of artists, including Jean Cocteau and Man Ray. …

“Barbette,” writes Cocteau,

“transforms effortlessly back and forth between man and woman. His female glamour and elegance Cocteau likens to a cloud of dust thrown into the eyes of the audience, blinding it to the masculinity of the movements he needs to perform his acrobatics. That blindness is so complete that at the end of his act, Barbette does not simply remove his wig but instead plays the part of a man. He rolls his shoulders, stretches his hands, swells his muscles… And after the fifteenth or so curtain call, he gives a mischievous wink, shifts from foot to foot, mimes a bit of an apology, and does a shuffling little street urchin dance – all of it to erase the fabulous, dying-swan impression left by the act.”

Cocteau calls upon his fellow artists to incorporate deliberately this effect that he believes for Barbette is instinctive.

Cocteau commissioned a series of photographs of Barbette by the Surrealist artist Man Ray, which captured not only aspects of Barbette’s performance but also his process of transformation into his female persona.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'Ernest Hemingway' 1928

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Ernest Hemingway
1928
Gelatin silver print
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
© Man Ray 2015 Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris 2021

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'Aldous Huxley' 1934

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Aldous Huxley
1934
Gelatin silver print
© Man Ray 2015 Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris 2021

 

This photograph was taken two years after the publication of Huxley’s novel Brave New World, a nightmarish vision of the future.

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'La Ville' (The City) 1931

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
La Ville (The City)
1931
From the portfolio Èlectricité
Photogravure, printed 1931
© Man Ray 2015 Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris 2021

 

 

In 1931, Man Ray was commissioned by the Compagnie Parisienne de Distribution d’Electricite (CPDE) to produce a series of pictures promoting the private consumption of electricity. The resulting portfolio, Électricité (Electricity), comprises rayographs reproduced as photogravures. Le Monde (The World), a picture of the moon above an electrical cord, suggests that even celestial bodies rely on the CPDE for their illumination; the photogravure Électricité equates the electric charge of the electron with the erotic beauty of a nude female figure; and Le Souffle (Breeze) combines spinning fan blades with the weblike stimuli of electrical current.

Gallery label from The Shaping of New Visions: Photography, Film, Photobook, April 16, 2012 – April 29, 2013 on the MoMA website [Online] Cited 03/02/2022

 

Man Ray. 'Électricité' 1931

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Électricité
1931
From the portfolio Èlectricité
Photogravure, printed 1931
© Man Ray 2015 Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris 2021

 

 

Man Ray’s innovations are not excluded. A whole section of the exhibition is devoted to his light-bending portfolio Électricité (1931), a commercial project commissioned by the Paris Electric Company to promote the use of electrically powered household appliances. Comprised of ten “Rayographs” (another name for photograms), the portfolio pulses with kinetic energy. Fans spin with an otherworldly force, a fowl is perfectly cooked as by magic rays, and the Eiffel Tower swims in hi-wattage advertisements.

Daniel Cassady. “‘Paris’s glowing milieu spills onto every corner’: Virginia show theatrically tells the story of Man Ray’s fruitful time in the City of Lights,” on The Art Newspaper website 11 November 2021 [Online] Cited 03/02/2022

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'Le Souffle' (Breeze) 1931

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Le Souffle (Breeze)
1931
From the portfolio Èlectricité
Photogravure, printed 1931
© Man Ray 2015 Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris 2021

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'Le Monde' (The World) 1931

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Le Monde (The World)
1931
From the portfolio Èlectricité
Photogravure, printed 1931
© Man Ray 2015 Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris 2021

 

 

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
200 N. Boulevard
Richmond, Virginia USA

Opening hours:
Daily 10am – 5pm and until 9 pm Wed, Thu, Fri

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts website

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top

17
Apr
21

Exhibition: ‘Faces. The Power of the Human Visage’ at the Albertina, Vienna

Exhibition dates: 12th February – 20th June 2021

Artists: Gertrud Arndt, Marta Astfalck-Vietz, Irene Bayer, Aenne Biermann, Erwin Blumenfeld, Max Burchartz, Suse Byk, Paul Citroen, Carl Theodor Dreyer, Andreas Feininger, Werner David Feist, Trude Fleischmann, Jozef Glogowski, Paul Edmund Hahn, Lotte Jacobi, Grit Kallin-Fischer, Edmund Kesting, Rudolf Koppitz, Kurt Kranz, Anneliese Kretschmer, Germaine Krull, Erna Lendvai-Dircksen, Helmar Lerski, László Moholy-Nagy, Lucia Moholy, Oskar Nerlinger, Erich Retzlaff, Hans Richter, Leni Riefenstahl, Franz Roh, Werner Rohde, Ilse Salberg, August Sander, Franz Xaver Setzer, Robert Siodmak, Anton Stankowski, Edgar G. Ulmer, Umbo, Robert Wiene, Willy Zielke.

 

 

Helmar Lerski (Swiss, 1871-1956) 'Metamorphosis, 588' 1935-1936

 

Helmar Lerski (Swiss, 1871-1956)
Metamorphosis, 588
1935-1936
Gelatin silver print
The ALBERTINA Museum, Vienna © Estate Helmar Lerski – Museum Folkwang, Essen

 

 

There is a limited number of media images from Faces. The Power of the Human Visage at the Albertina, Vienna, an exhibition which investigates how 1920s and ’30s saw photographers radically renew the conventional understanding of the classic portrait during the Weimar Republic. From a distance, the overall selection of artists seems slightly ad hoc: mainly German or Austrian, with Swiss, Polish, Danish and American thrown in for good measure. Surely then, you would include luminaries such as Claude Cahun, Florence Henri and Eva Besnyö for example.

The standouts in the posting are August Sander and Herman Lerski, both from opposing camps. Peter Pfrunder observes that Lerski’s earlier subjects, “showed portraits of anonymous people from the underclass of the Berlin society, presenting them as theatrical figures so that professional titles such as “chamber maid”, “beggar” or “textile worker” appeared as arbitrarily applied roles” that reveal the inner face of the photographer (his imagination) – whereas the work of Sander, who was at the same time working on his project “Menschen des 20. Jahrhunderts”, was an objective, social taxonomy of various representatives of the Weimar society.

Lerksi’s is the more esoteric enterprise, as he sought to provide proof “”that the lens does not have to be objective, that the photographer can, with the help of light, work freely, characterise freely, according to his inner face.” Contrary to the conventional idea of the portrait as an expression of human identity, Lerski used the human face as a projection surface for the figures of his imagination.” The Howard Greenberg gallery suggests that the “portraits” reflect a search for the photographers own wandering soul.

For me Lerki’s project Metamorphosis through Light (1935/36) – 137 “photographs of a man” taken by the artist on a Tel Aviv rooftop using natural sunlight and the help of up to 16 mirrors and filters – is a meditation on the mutability of the human face, identity and psyche, a brooding contemplation on the ever changing nature of the human spirit pictured through the face, over time. In this case, a compressed time atop a rooftop in Tel Aviv using an out-of-work structural draughtsman and light athlete, Leo Uschatz, as a stand-in for the artist himself.

Our face becomes us. It is our presentation to the world of who we are. The worry lines, the grey hair and the broken nose are all hard-earned signs of the life that we have led. The iconography of the face. Lerski captures this outer reflection of our inner self in a series of transcendent, abstract, modernist visages [the manifestation, image, or aspect of something] – that are among the most powerful representations of the human face that have ever been captured on film.

In their very context less being, in their very transposition from prophet, to peasant, to dying soldier, to old woman, to monk, they transgress [go beyond the limits of, and become an aspect of something else] what is normally seen and recognised of what Erwin Goffman calls ‘facework’,1 our interaction through our face with the outside world. They go beyond saving face: “Because in the face the corporeal surface makes visible something of the movements of the soul, ideally.”2

In light, through time, their transmutation is the transformation of our lives, compressed, condensed, communicated.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

PS. For more information on the face, please see my writing Facile, Facies, Facticity (2014)

 

  1. Facework theory is concerned with the ways in which we construct and preserve our self images, or the image of someone else. See Goffman, Erving. (1955) “On face-work: An analysis of ritual elements in social interaction,” in ‘Psychiatry: Journal for the Study of Interpersonal Processes 18, pp. 213-231.
  2. Georges Didi-Huberman. Invention of Hysteria: Charcot and the Photographic Iconography of the Salpetriere (trans. Alisa Hartz). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2003, p. 49.

.
Many thankx to the Albertina for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Starting from Helmar Lerski’s outstanding photo series Metamorphose – Verwandlungen durch Licht (Metamorphosis through Light) (1935/36), the exhibition Faces presents portraits from the period of the Weimar Republic.

The 1920s and ’30s saw photographers radically renew the conventional understanding of the classic portrait: their aim was no longer to represent an individual’s personality; instead, they conceived of the face as material to be staged according to their own ideas. In this, the photographed face became a locus for dealing with avant-garde aesthetic ideas as well as interwar-period social developments. And it was thus that modernist experiments, the relationship between individual and general type, feminist roll-playing, and political ideologies collided in – and thereby expanded – the general understanding of portrait photography.

 

 

“For heaven’s sake, dear Mr. Meidner, you aren’t going to throw down your brush and palette and become a photographer, are you? … Don’t take offence at the machine. Here too, it’s the spirit that creates value… Photography is something great. It doesn’t do any good to step back and cry. Join in, but hurry! Photography marches on!”

.
Helmar Lerski to the painter Ludwig Meidner, 1930

 

“His model, he [Lerski] told me in Paris, was a young man with a nondescript face who posed on the roof of a house. Lerski took over a hundred pictures of that face from a very short distance, each time subtly changing the light with the aid of screens. Big close-ups, these pictures detailed the texture of the skin so that cheeks and brows turned into a maze of inscrutable runes reminiscent of soil formations, as they appear from an airplane. The result was amazing. None of the photographs recalled the model; and all of them differed from each other.

Out of the original face there arose, evoked by the varying lights, a hundred different faces, among them those of a hero, a prophet, a peasant, a dying soldier, an old woman, a monk. Did these portraits, if portraits they were, anticipate the metamorphoses which the young man would undergo in the future? Or were they just plays of light whimsically projecting on his face dreams and experiences forever alien to him? Proust would have been delighted in Lerski’s experiment with its unfathomable implications.”

.
Siegfried Kracauer. ‘Theory of Film’. Oxford University Press, 1960, p. 162

 

“‘Facies’ simultaneously signifies the singular ‘air’ of a face, the particularity of its aspect, as well as the ‘genre’ or ‘species’ under which this aspect should be subsumed. The facies would thus be a face fixed to a synthetic combination of the universal and the singular: the visage fixed to the regime of ‘representation’, in a Helgian sense.

Why the face? – Because in the face the corporeal surface makes visible something of the movements of the soul, ideally. This also holds for the Cartesian science of the expression of the passions, and perhaps also explains why, from the outset, psychiatric photography took the form of an art of the portrait.”

.
Georges Didi-Huberman. ‘Invention of Hysteria: Charcot and the Photographic Iconography of the Salpetriere’ (trans. Alisa Hartz). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2003, p. 49

 

 

Helmar Lerski (Swiss, 1871-1956) 'Metamorphosis, 536' 1935-1936

 

Helmar Lerski (Swiss, 1871-1956)
Metamorphosis, 536
1935-1936
Gelatin silver print
The ALBERTINA Museum, Vienna © Estate Helmar Lerski – Museum Folkwang, Essen

 

Helmar Lerski (Swiss, 1871-1956) 'Metamorphosis, 537' 1935-1936

 

Helmar Lerski (Swiss, 1871-1956)
Metamorphosis, 537
1935-1936
Gelatin silver print
The ALBERTINA Museum, Vienna © Estate Helmar Lerski – Museum Folkwang, Essen

 

 

But Lerski’s pictures were only partly in line with the maxims of the New Photography, and they questioned the validity of pure objectivity. The distinguishing characteristics of his portraits included a theatrical-expressionistic, sometimes dramatic use of lighting inspired by the silent film. Although his close-up photographs captured the essential features of a face – eyes, nose and mouth –, his primary concern was not individual appearance or superficial likeness but the deeper inner potential: he emphasised the changeability, the different faces of an individual. Lerski, who sympathised with the political left wing, thereby infiltrated the photography of types that was practised (and not infrequently misused for racist purposes) by many of Lerski’s contemporaries.

In his book “Köpfe des Alltags” (Everyday Faces) (1931), a milestone in the history of photographic books, Lerski clearly expressed his convictions: he showed portraits of anonymous people from the underclass of the Berlin society, presenting them as theatrical figures so that professional titles such as “chamber maid”, “beggar” or “textile worker” appeared as arbitrarily applied roles. Thus his photographs may be interpreted as an important opposite standpoint to the work of August Sander, who was at the same time working on his project “Menschen des 20. Jahrhunderts” – that large-scale attempt at a social localisation of various representatives of the Weimar society.

But Helmar Lerski’s attitude was at its most radical in his work entitled “Metamorphosis”. This was completed within a few months at the beginning of 1936 in Palestine, to where Lerski and his second wife Anneliese had immigrated in 1932. In “Verwandlungen durch Licht” (this is the second title for this work), Lerski carried his theatrical talent to extremes. With the help of up to 16 mirrors and filters, he directed the natural light of the sun in constant new variations and refractions onto his model, the Bernese-born, at the time out-of-work structural draughtsman and light athlete Leo Uschatz. Thus he achieved, in a series of over 140 close-ups “hundreds of different faces, including that of a hero, a prophet, a peasant, a dying soldier, an old woman and a monk from one single original face” (Siegfried Kracauer). According to Lerski, these pictures were intended to provide proof “that the lens does not have to be objective, that the photographer can, with the help of light, work freely, characterise freely, according to his inner face.” Contrary to the conventional idea of the portrait as an expression of human identity, Lerski used the human face as a projection surface for the figures of his imagination. We are only just becoming aware of the modernity of this provocative series of photographs.

Peter Pfrunder. “Helmar Lerski: Metamorphosis,” on the Fotostiftung Schweiz website 2005 [Online] Cited 17/04/2021.

 

Lerski led a nomadic existence, driven by the events that splintered Europe and the Holy Lands throughout his life. His life was a sequence of transportations without a central resting place. It might be assumed that his thematic focus in photography, as pictured in his books Köpfe des Alltags, Les Juifs (of the “Jewish Heads” series) and Metamorphosis Through Light was of an external fascination with the human face and gesture but really reflects a search for his own self. The constant exposure to anti-Semitism and its horrible repercussions resulted in an acknowledgment of his own Judaism and for an historical identity. Ultimately, Lerski’s penetrating vision of others is a mirror of his own wandering soul.

Anonymous text on the Howard Greenberg website [Online] Cited 17/04/2021.

 

Helmar Lerski (Swiss, 1871-1956) 'Metamorphosis, 604' 1935-1936

 

Helmar Lerski (Swiss, 1871-1956)
Metamorphosis, 604
1935-1936
Gelatin silver print
The ALBERTINA Museum, Vienna © Estate Helmar Lerski – Museum Folkwang, Essen

 

Marta Astfalck-Vietz (German, 1901-1994) 'Ohne Titel (Marta Vietz, Akt mit Spitze)' c. 1927

 

Marta Astfalck-Vietz (German, 1901-1994)
Ohne Titel (Marta Vietz, Akt mit Spitze) (Marta Vietz, nude with lace)
c. 1927
Gelatin silver print
Dietmar Katz/Berlinische Galerie © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Dietmar Katz/Berlinische Galerie

 

 

Almost all of her archive was lost when her Berlin home was bombed in 1943. What remains was discovered by the curator Janos Frecot in 1989 and is now housed at the Berlinische Galerie in Berlin.

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964) 'Handlanger' (Bricklayer / Handyman) 1928

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
Handlanger (Bricklayer / Handyman)
1928
Gelatin silver print
© Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Köln; BILDRECHT, Wien, 2020

 

 

Later in the 1920s Sander shot what was to become one of his most iconic works, ‘Handlanger (Bricklayer)’. This photograph belongs to ‘The Skilled Tradesman’, one of seven chapters within his People of the 20th Century project. The title and subject of this photograph form an archetype of Sander’s sociological documentation of people from a variety of occupations and social classes. Formally, the portrait’s centrality, flat background and conventional framing demonstrate Sander’s investment in photography as a ‘truth-telling’ device; one which represents reality as it is, without formal experimentation and within the boundaries of the history of photographic portraiture. Sander wrote in his seminal lecture ‘Photography as a Universal Language’ that photography was the medium most able to best reflect the ‘physical path to demonstrable truth and understand physiognomy’.

Anonymous text from the Hauser and Wirth website [Online] Cited 07/04/2021

 

August Sander’s Handlanger is one of the photographer’s definitive images from his epic series, Menschen des 20. Jahrhunderts (Men of the Twentieth Century). Sander also selected this image for publication in Antlitz der Zeit, his seminal 1929 book of portraits of the German people. Although very much of-a-piece with the portraits in this book, Handlanger stands out for the intensity of its subject’s gaze and for Sander’s strongly symmetrical composition. The photograph is an archetypal portrait of the working man, emanating capability and strength.

Titled simply Handlanger (hod-carrier, or handyman), this image took its place in Antlitz der Zeit (Face of Our Time) alongside portraits of farmers, bureaucrats, students, political radicals, artists, and others, most identified only by their occupation or type. Sander’s purpose was to create a collective portrait of the German populace that was thoroughly objective, unsentimental, and unprejudiced. His stated goal was nothing less than ‘… to be honest and tell the truth about our age and its people.’ Sander’s project and its inclusive scope, however, brought him to the attention of the German authorities. In 1934, the Reich Chamber of Arts ordered the destruction of the printing plates for Antlitz der Zeit and the seizure of all copies, effectively halting Sander’s picture-making.

Anonymous text from the Sothebys website [Online] Cited 07/04/2021

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964) 'Jungbauern' (Young Farmers) 1914

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
Jungbauern (Young Farmers)
1914
Gelatin silver print
© Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Köln; BILDRECHT, Wien, 2020

 

 

What This Photo Doesn’t Show

 

Irene Bayer-Hecht (American, 1898-1991) 'Andor Weininger as Clown' 1926

 

Irene Bayer-Hecht (American, 1898-1991)
Andor Weininger as Clown
1926
Gelatin silver paper
Museum Folkwang, Essen
© Museum Folkwang, Essen

 

 

Chicago-born but raised in Hungary, Irene Bayer-Hecht studied commercial art in Berlin. After seeing the Bauhaus exhibition in 1923, she decided to concentrate on fine art. In 1925 she married Herbert Bayer and moved to Dessau, where she studied photography at the Bauhaus in order to assist him in his work. Her own photographs were mostly of people, both portraits and formal studies. Bayer’s work was included in the landmark Film und Foto exhibition in 1929 in Stuttgart. After moving back to the United States in 1938, Bayer gave up photography and became a translator.

Anonymous text from the J. Paul Getty website [Online] Cited 07/04/2021

 

An international figure, Irene Bayer-Hecht was born in Chicago, grew up in Hungary, and studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Berlin, and the Sorbonne and École de Beaux-Arts, Paris. In 1923 she visited the first large Bauhaus exhibition in Weimar, where she met Herbert Bayer, whom she married in 1925. This allowed her to attend the Bauhaus’s Vorkurs (foundation course) that year without formally enrolling at the school. At the same time she attended photography courses at the Academy of Graphic Arts and Book Publishing in Leipzig. She took her own photographs and also used her technical training to support Bayer’s photographic work. The couple separated in 1928. Beyer-Hecht’s photographs feature experimental approaches and candid views of life at the Bauhaus; these pictures were included in the exhibition Film und Foto, in 1929. In 1938 she returned to the United States, abandoning photography and working instead as a translator.

Mitra Abbaspour on the MoMA website [Online] Cited 07/04/2021

 

Gertrud Arndt (German, 1903-2000) 'Maskenselbstbildnis Nr. 22' (Mask self-portrait No. 22) 1930

 

Gertrud Arndt (German, 1903-2000)
Maskenselbstbildnis Nr. 22 (Mask self-portrait No. 22)
1930
Silbergelatinepapier
Museum Folkwang, Essen
© Bildrecht, Wien 2020

 

 

Gertrud Arndt (born Gertrud Hantschk in Upper Silicia) set out to become an architect, beginning a three-year apprenticeship in 1919 at the architecture firm of Karl Meinhardt in Erfurt, where her family lived at the time. While there, she began teaching herself photography by taking pictures of buildings in town. She also attended courses in typography, drawing, and art history at the Kunstgewerbeschule (School of design). Encouraged by Meinhardt, a friend of Walther Gropius, Arndt was awarded a scholarship to continue her studies at the Bauhaus in Weimar. Enrolled from 1923 to 1927, Arndt took the Vorkurs (foundation course) from László Moholy-Nagy, who was a chief proponent of the value of experimentation with photography. After her Vorkurs, Georg Muche, leader of the weaving workshop, persuaded her to join his course, which then became the formal focus of her studies. Upon graduation, in March 1927, she married fellow Bauhaus graduate and architect Alfred Arndt. The couple moved to Probstzella in Eastern Germany, where Arndt photographed buildings for her husband’s architecture firm. In 1929, Hannes Meyer invited Alfred Arndt to teach at the Bauhaus, where Arndt focused her energy on photography, entering her period of greatest activity, featuring portraits of friends, still-lifes, and a series of performative self-portraits, as well as At the Masters’ Houses (MoMA 1607.2001), which shows the influence of her studies with Moholy-Nagy as well as her keen eye for architecture. After the Bauhaus closed, in 1932, the couple left Dessau and moved back to Probstzella. Three years after the end of World War II the family moved to Darmstadt; Arndt almost completely stopped making photographs.

Mitra Abbaspour on the MoMA website [Online] Cited 07/04/2021

 

In 1930, Gertrud Arndt, a Bauhaus-taught weaver and textile designer, took forty-three portraits of herself in only a few days. Adopting a style which was in direct contrast with the functional Bauhaus aesthetic – indeed, it was a “welcome break” from it –, Arndt slipped into the rôles of different eras and cultural circles and captured these mises en scène with her camera. They were private photographs, photographs intended purely as a means of coming to terms with her own self, not for publication.

 

Max Burchartz (German, 1887-1961) 'Lotte (Auge)' 1928

 

Max Burchartz (German, 1887-1961)
Lotte (Auge)
1928
Silbergelatinepapier
Museum Folkwang, Essen
© Bildrecht, Wien 2020

 

 

Max Burchartz (1887-1961) studied painting at the Akademie der Künste in Düsseldorf and came into contact with the Bauhaus in Weimar during the 1920s. In 1924 together with Johannes Canis he opened an advertising agency in Bochum, which gained a reputation for creating innovative advertising campaigns with photography and typography. Until 1932 Burchartz taught photography and commercial art at the Folkwangschule für Gestaltung in Essen. One of his students was Anton Stankowski. After Hilter came to power in 1933 Burchartz joined the Nazi Party and voluntarily joined the German army which he remained in until the end of the war. In 1949 he was reappointed to the Folkwangschule, where he taught until 1955, publishing books on design theory such as Schule des Schauens in 1962.

 

Two pages from the book 'Faces. The Power of the Human Visage'

 

Two pages from the book Faces. The Power of the Human Visage. Hirmer Verlag GmbH Hardcover – 25 May 2021

 

Oskar Nerlinger (German, 1893-1969) 'Kopf mit Taschenlampe' (Head with flashlight) c. 1928

 

Oskar Nerlinger (German, 1893-1969)
Kopf mit Taschenlampe (Head with flashlight)
c. 1928
Silbergelatinepapier
Galerie Berinson, Berlin
© Sigrid Nerlinger

 

 

Excluded & yet entangled in two dictatorships: The political constructivist Oskar Nerlinger 10/02/2021

 

 

Oskar Nerlinger (1893-1969) was one of the most important artists of the committed art scene in the Weimar Republic. He was a member of the Association of Proletarian Revolutionary Art (ASSO for short), which was founded in 1928 and belonged to the KPD, which cooperated with the Soviet avant-garde artist group Oktober. At that time there was no conflict between positions of aesthetic modernism and KPD politics. In 1932 the political and artistic avant-garde in the Soviet Union fell apart, with serious consequences for left-wing artists in Germany. Almost at the same time, the Nazi system broke with all forms of modernity. With his idea of art suddenly doubly isolated within his own party, which followed Stalin’s art verdict, and within Germany through the Nazi art policy, Nerlinger went into so-called “inner emigration”, but behaved in a very contradictory manner and adapted his artistic language to the Nazi aesthetics. After 1945 he joined the SED and followed the given political norms of socialist realism as part of the formalism campaign.

The twofold turning point in 1932 and 1933 left lasting traces in Oskar Nerlinger’s art. With this transition from innovation to regression, Nerlinger stands for a whole generation of politically committed artists in the Weimar Republic who, blindly believing in the doctrines of the communist party, gave up their own aesthetic and moral convictions. In a paradoxical way, Nerlinger was marginalised and at the same time entangled in two dictatorships.

 

Erich Retzlaff (German, 1899-1993) 'Bride's Traditional Dress from Kleines Walsertal' before 1936

 

Erich Retzlaff (German, 1899-1993)
Bride’s Traditional Dress from Kleines Walsertal
before 1936
From German Folk Costumes
17.6 × 12.3cm
Gelatin silver print on supporting cardboard
The Albertina Museum, Vienna – Permanent loan from the Österreichische Ludwig-Stiftung für Kunst und Wissenschaft)
© Volker Graf Bethusy-Huc

 

 

Erich Max Wilhelm Retzlaff was born in Reinfeld in Schleswig Holstein, Germany on October 9th 1899. He came from a prosperous protestant middle class background. His father, Friedrich, was the noted author of the definitive Handbuch für die Polizei im Reich (German police handbook) published in 1892. The young Erich grew up in the twilight of the Wilhelmine era and enlisted enthusiastically into the German army in 1916 to fight in the First World War. Retzlaff served as a machine gunner on the western front (Flanders), was very badly wounded and subsequently spent over a year in a military hospital. He received the Iron Cross (second class).

After the conclusion of the war he drifted into work in civilian life eventually completing a business apprenticeship in a paint factory in Düsseldorf. With help from one of his former army officers, Retzlaff was able to secure a position as a supplies buyer for a factory in Hamburg. He began to earn a decent salary and became a patron of the arts, visiting many exhibitions and associating with artists to the point that he contemplated a creative career himself. But Retzlaff was unable to pursue painting; his wounds during the war had left his hand permanently damaged. Instead, Retzlaff began to experiment with photography, initially as an amateur enthusiast and then ultimately as a career, starting up a small photographic portrait studio on the Königsallee (Düsseldorf). By the late 1920s Retzlaff moved to larger premises on the Kaiserstrasse as custom increased and the business grew. His circle of friends and associates widened and by the late 1930s included painters such as Werner Peiner, Emil Nolde, the photographer Paul Wolff and the Norwegian author Knut Hamsun. A passionate German Nationalist, Retzlaff became a member of Hitler’s National Socialist party in 1932 (No.1014457).

Retzlaff moved his studio several times during the 1930s and 1940s working in a number of locations including locations in Düsseldorf and Berlin. He also expanded his oeuvre as commercial needs demanded and as well as his portraits he photographed traditional German regional costumes, landscapes and industrial scenes. However, at the heart of his portfolio was Retzlaff’s interest in photographing in a physiognomic way. Physiognomy is a belief that one can read a face to discover the personality and character of the individual. Physiognomy was hugely popular as a means of evaluating people and their lives in Germany after the First World War. During the Hitler years this interest continued with an added emphasis on race. The focus of Retzlaff’s photographs from this period was making images that applied a physiognomic parascience within a political and ideological framework.

After 1945 Retzlaff continued to make his living as a photographer and his work was still widely published. His portfolio from the post-war period includes fashion photography, landscapes, portraits of prominent Germans (such as Chancellor Konrad Adenauer), and dramatic images of West German industry. However, in a general sense, the photographs he made after 1945 are less dynamic than the work made in the 1930s and 40s. The images tend to lack the punch and bite of the earlier Retzlaff. The ideology is gone and with it the personal sense of purpose that his earlier images possessed.

These biographical details are drawn from the transcript of Professor Doctor Rolf Sachsse’s 1979 recorded interview with Erich Retzlaff and from additional biographical information provided to me by Retzlaff’s son Herr Jürgen Retzlaff and his daughter Bettina Retzlaff-Cumming.

Text on the Aberystwyth University website [Online] Cited 07/04/2021

 

Franz Roh (German, 1890-1965) 'Masquerade' 1928-1933

 

Franz Roh (German, 1890-1965)
Masquerade
1928-1933
Gelatin silver print
Münchner Stadtmuseum – Nachlass Franz Roh, München

 

 

The 1920s are the decade of masquerade in the history of modern art. Was it the coming of the cinema, that “Hades of the Living”, in which the protagonists forever assume new identities and “the shadows already become immortal while still alive”31, or was it first and foremost the psychological consequences of the profound social changes following the First World War which made masks, disguises and rôle-playing the favourite means of self-stylisation and self-discovery among artists and writers of both sexes? For the psychoanalyst Joan Rivière, masquerade was one of the essential features of womanliness, which – she wrote in 1929 – “could be assumed and worn as a mask”, both to hide the possession of masculinity and to avert the reprisals expected if she was found to possess it. […] The reader may now ask how I define womanliness or where I draw the line between genuine womanliness and the ‘masquerade’. My suggestion is not, however, that there is any such difference; whether radical or superficial, they are the same thing.”32 Gender rôle-playing, hitherto reserved in the 19th century for the very close circles of male-attired lesbians, became a fashion phenomenon with the arrival of the “garçonne” in the 1920s.33 The poetess Else Lasker-Schüler, who would frequently masquerade as the Prince of Thebes in the literary cafés of Berlin, was written about as follows: “Disguise was an aid to becoming a person. It symbolises the ego in the process of either developing or disintegrating. […] Disguise is both the secret and the prediction of a person who seeks himself or herself in the game of (mis)taken identities; one who is versatile in the art of transformation, who can condense into many different persons again and again, but never into a tangible personality.”34 Thus photography was the ideal means of objectifying these transformations and of viewing one’s other self from a distance.

Extract from Herbert Molderings and Barbara Mülhens-Molderings. “Mirrors, Masks and Spaces. Self-portraits by Women Photographers in the twenties and thirties,” on the Jeu de Paume website 03/06/2011 [Online] Cited 07/04/2021. No longer available online

 

Franz Roh (21 February 1890 – 30 December 1965), was a German historian, photographer, and art critic. Roh is perhaps best known for his 1925 book Nach Expressionismus: Magischer Realismus: Probleme der neuesten europäischen Malerei (“After expressionism: Magical Realism: Problems of the newest European painting”) he coined the term magic realism.

Roh was born in Apolda (in present-day Thuringia), Germany. He studied at universities in Leipzig, Berlin, and Basel. In 1920, he received his Ph.D. in Munich for a work on Dutch paintings of the 17th century. As a photographer and critic, he absolutely hated photographs that mimicked painting, charcoal, or drawings. During the Nazi regime, he was isolated and briefly put in jail for his book Foto-Auge (Photo-Eye); he used his jail time he used to write the book Der Verkannte Künstler: Geschichte und Theorie des kulturellen Mißverstehens (“The unrecognised artist: history and theory of cultural misunderstanding”). After the war, in 1946, he married art historian Juliane Bartsch. He died in Munich.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

An art historian, photographer, and art critic, Franz Roh deplored photographs that were derived from painting or pretended to be drawings or charcoal sketches. His writings brought him close to avant-garde artists, who inspired many of his photographs. In 1929 he co-published and co-edited a book, Foto-Auge (Photo-Eye), with graphic designer Jan Tschichold. Asserting that photographs were an effective weapon against “the mechanisation of spirit” and one of the world’s greatest physical, chemical, and technological wonders, Roh and Tschichold based the book on a film and photography exhibition held in Stuttgart. The book’s progressive stance led to Roh’s brief imprisonment by the government censors, who forbade him to continue writing. In 1946 he was awarded a professorship at the University of Munich, a position he held for the remainder of his life.

Anonymous text from the J.Paul Getty website [Online] Cited 07/04/2021

 

Two pages from the book 'Faces. The Power of the Human Visage'

 

Two pages from the book Faces.The Power of the Human Visage. Hirmer Verlag GmbH Hardcover – 25 May 2021

 

Lotte Jacobi (American, 1896-1990) 'Head of the Dancer Niura Norskaya' 1929

 

Lotte Jacobi (American, 1896-1990)
Head of the Dancer Niura Norskaya
1929

 

 

Lotte Jacobi (August 17, 1896 – May 6, 1990) was a leading American portrait photographer and photojournalist, known for her high-contrast black-and-white portrait photography, characterised by intimate, sometimes dramatic, sometimes idiosyncratic and often definitive humanist depictions of both ordinary people in the United States and Europe and some of the most important artists, thinkers and activists of the 20th century.

 

Two pages from the book 'Faces. The Power of the Human Visage'

 

Two pages from the book Faces. The Power of the Human Visage. Hirmer Verlag GmbH Hardcover – 25 May 2021

 

Cover from the book 'Faces. The Power of the Human Visage'

 

Cover from the book Faces. The Power of the Human Visage featuring Helmar Lerski (Swiss, 1871-1956) Metamorphosis, 537 1935-1936

 

 

Albertina
Albertinaplatz 1
1010 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 (0)1 534 83-0

Opening hours:
Daily 10am – 6pm
Wednesday and Fridays 10am – 9pm

Albertina website

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top

07
Jul
20

European photographic research tour: Vintage August Sander photographs at Galerie Julian Sander, Cologne

Visited September 2019 posted July 2020

 

Tamara Könen of the gallery (left) and Kristina Engels from August Sander Stiftung – at Galerie Julian Sander, standing in front of August Sander's photographs

 

Tamara Könen of the gallery (left) and Kristina Engels from August Sander Stiftung – at Galerie Julian Sander, standing in front of August Sander’s photographs.

 

 

On my European photographic research tour in late 2019, I had a memorable visit to Galerie Julian Sander to see some vintage and later prints from the August Sander Archive / August Sander Stiftung with Tamara Könen from the gallery (left) and Kristina Engels from August Sander Stiftung.

It was a privilege to be able to see about 10 prints… the highlights being a stunning 1929-1930 vintage landscape, a vintage carnivalesque image of the Cologne avant-garde and a later print by his son of Painter’s Wife [Helene Abelen] 1926. The vintage landscape, like the vintage prints of Sudek, possessed no true black or white, the tonal range prescribed between zones 2-8.

The use of low depth of field in the portraits was outstanding. For example the shoes of Helene are completely out of focus whereas her hands are as crisp and clear as a summer breeze. Most astonishing was the panache of the bohemians, with the outstretched arm top left… printed on matt brown toned paper with a thin gold edge.

Another vintage print that showed selective depth of field was the photograph of a man with his dog, Junglehrer (Young Teacher) 1928. The dog’s lower legs were completely out of focus (Sander tilting his large format camera) making this oh so German photograph seem so surreal!

Other prints had a thin black edge and the vintage press print landscape (c. 1920s) was printed on thin single weight paper, while the vintage photograph of the sculptor Professor Ludwig Benh shows an original Sander mount – the print mounted behind an artist cut window. All prints were enlargements from 4×5” glass negatives or German equivalent size.

Such a wonderful learning experience! Thank you to the gallery for their time and knowledge.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. Most photographs © Marcus Bunyan and Galerie Julian Sander

 

 

3 vintage prints, the left one with black edge floating free of the backboard; the second c .1920s of a Communist rally; and the third of an industrialist (Großindustrieller / The Industrialist, 1927)

 

3 vintage silver gelatin prints, the left one with black edge floating free of the backboard; the second c. 1920s of a Communist rally; and the third of an industrialist (Großindustrieller / The Industrialist, 1927)
Galerie Julian Sander, Cologne
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964). 'Das Siebengebirge: Blick vom Rolandsbogen' [The Siebengebirge: view from the Rolandsbogen] 1929-30 (center) and 'Untitled [Remagen Bridge on the Rhine]' c. 1930 (right)

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
Das Siebengebirge: Blick vom Rolandsbogen [The Siebengebirge: view from the Rolandsbogen] 1929-1930 (center) and Untitled [Remagen Bridge on the Rhine] c. 1930 (right)
Galerie Julian Sander, Cologne
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964) 'Das Siebengebirge: Blick vom Rolandsbogen' [The Siebengebirge: view from the Rolandsbogen] 1929-30

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
Das Siebengebirge: Blick vom Rolandsbogen [The Siebengebirge: view from the Rolandsbogen]
1929-1930
Vintage gelatin silver print
Also titled:
Siebengebirge von der linken Rheinseite gesehen [Siebengebirge seen from the left side of the Rhine]
Blick vom Rolandsbogen auf das Siebengebirge mit Drachenfels [View from Roland Arch on the Siebengebirge with Drachenfels]
Galerie Julian Sander, Cologne
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964) 'Das Siebengebirge: Blick vom Rolandsbogen' [The Siebengebirge: view from the Rolandsbogen] 1929-30

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
Das Siebengebirge: Blick vom Rolandsbogen [The Siebengebirge: view from the Rolandsbogen]
1929-1930
Vintage gelatin silver print
Also titled:
Siebengebirge von der linken Rheinseite gesehen [Siebengebirge seen from the left side of the Rhine]
Blick vom Rolandsbogen auf das Siebengebirge mit Drachenfels [View from Roland Arch on the Siebengebirge with Drachenfels]
Galerie Julian Sander, Cologne
Photo:
Marcus Bunyan

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964) 'Das Siebengebirge: Blick vom Rolandsbogen' [The Siebengebirge: view from the Rolandsbogen] 1929-30

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
Das Siebengebirge: Blick vom Rolandsbogen [The Siebengebirge: view from the Rolandsbogen]
1929-1930
Vintage gelatin silver print

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964) 'Untitled [Remagen Bridge on the Rhine]' c. 1930

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
Untitled [Remagen Bridge on the Rhine]
c. 1930
Vintage gelatin silver press print
Galerie Julian Sander, Cologne
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964) 'Untitled [Bohemians: avant-garde of Cologne]' 1920s (left) and 'Professor Ludwig Behn' 1920s (right)

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
Untitled [Bohemians: avant-garde of Cologne] 1920s (left) and Professor Ludwig Behn 1920s (right)
Vintage gelatin silver print with gold edge printed on matt warm toned paper
Galerie Julian Sander, Cologne
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964) 'Untitled [Bohemians: avant-garde of Cologne]' 1920s

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
Untitled [Bohemians: avant-garde of Cologne]
1920s
Vintage gelatin silver print with gold edge printed on matt warm toned paper
Galerie Julian Sander, Cologne
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964) 'Untitled [Bohemians: avant-garde of Cologne]' 1920s

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
Untitled [Bohemians: avant-garde of Cologne]
1920s
Vintage gelatin silver print with gold edge printed on matt warm toned paper
Galerie Julian Sander, Cologne
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964) 'Professor Ludwig Behn, Bildhaver, Munich' 1920s

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
Professor Ludwig Behn, Bildhaver, Münich
1920s
Gelatin silver print

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964) 'Professor Ludwig Behn, Bildhaver, Munich' 1920s (detail)

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
Professor Ludwig Behn, Bildhaver, Münich
1920s
Vintage gelatin silver print with original Sander mount
Galerie Julian Sander, Cologne
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964) 'Painter's Wife [Helene Abelen]' 1926

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
Painter’s Wife [Helene Abelen]
1926
Later gelatin silver print by Sander’s son
Galerie Julian Sander, Cologne
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

This photograph shows Helene Abelen, wife of the Cologne painter, Peter Abelen. During the 1920s August Sander befriended many Cologne artists because of his involvement with the Cologne Progressive Artists Group (Gruppe Progressiver Künstler Köln). In 1926 Sander was asked by Peter Abelen to create a portrait of his young wife. With her short, slicked-back hair, collared shirt, thin necktie and trousers, Frau Abelen is presented as a distinctly androgynous figure. Her masculine garb and haircut, as well as the cigarette held between her teeth, signal a defiance of traditional gender roles. Staring determinedly out at the viewer Helene Abelen’s animated expression is unusual for a Sander portrait and falls somewhere between bravado and agitation.

This portrait reflects the so-called ‘new woman’ of the Weimar Republic. The concept of the ‘new woman’ dates from before the First World War but became firmly rooted during it when women were mobilised in the workforce. Within Germany this created considerable anxiety about women’s roles, particularly in relation to the family. In 1928, on the tenth anniversary of the end of the war, the Münchner Illustrierte Presse showed on its cover a photograph of a young woman, with short hair and skirt, astride a motorcycle with a lit cigarette in hand, with the heading, ‘Only ten years – a different world’. Like this magazine image, Sander’s portrait of Helene Abelen reflected a consciousness about the blurring of gender roles in the wake of the ‘new woman’.

Painter’s Wife represents an anomaly in Sander’s work. For the most part, his depictions of women show them as wives and mothers, as the soul of the home and the family. Contrary to appearances, this portrait should not be taken to represent an unqualified vision of female independence. The costume Helene Abelen is wearing was created for her by Peter Abelen and the haircut she sports was also his choice. Her daughter later commented of this work: ‘This was the creation of my father. He wanted her to look like this. He always did our dresses’ (quoted in Greenberg 2000, p. 121).

Matthew Macaulay
November 2011

Text from the Tate website [Online] Cited 24/06/2020

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964) 'Junglehrer' (Young Teacher) 1928

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
Junglehrer (Young Teacher)
1928
Vintage gelatin silver print with black edge
Galerie Julian Sander, Cologne
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964) 'Junglehrer' (Young Teacher) 1928

 

August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
Junglehrer (Young Teacher)
1928
Vintage gelatin silver print with black edge
Galerie Julian Sander, Cologne
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Galerie Julian Sander
Cäcilienstr. 48
50667 Cologne
Germany
Phone: +49 (0) 221 170 50 70

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Friday 12.00 – 18.00

Galerie Julian Sander website

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top

31
May
20

European photographic research tour exhibition: ‘Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity’ at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam Part 1

Exhibition dates: 7th September – 1st December 2019

Visited September 2019 posted June 2020

Curator: Estrella de Diego, Professor of Modern Art at the Complutense University of Madrid

 

 

Berenice Abbott. 'George Antheil' 1927

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
George Antheil (installation view)
1927
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

George Antheil was an American avant-garde composer, pianist, author, and inventor whose modernist musical compositions explored the modern sounds – musical, industrial, and mechanical – of the early 20th century.

 

 

This was one of the most memorable photography exhibitions of my European sojourn during August – October 2019, in the most beautiful of gallery spaces. I was so very lucky to complete my time in Europe before the current pandemic arrived.

I will comment more on the exhibition in Part 2 of the posting, but suffice to say it was a real pleasure to see the work of Berenice Abbott side by side with the photographs of Eugène Atget, an artist she did much to champion (including printing his photographs). Her portraits of Atget taken in the year of his death were magnificent. They provide a portal between old and new, between the artist looking back on his work (his life), and the 20th century artist realising that they have to accommodate Atget within their future kinēsis … and in so doing, Abbott pictures an artist whose spirit possessed all of Old Paris.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
All iPhone photographs by Dr Marcus Bunyan. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'George Antheil' 1927

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
George Antheil
1927
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations © Getty Images/Berenice Abbott

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

 

Installation views of the exhibition Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam
Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

This autumn Huis Marseille will present a large retrospective of the famous American photographer Berenice Abbott (1898-1991). This is the first time that an extensive selection of her work, held by important American collections, will be shown in the Netherlands. Abbott is one of the key figures in the history of 20th-century photography. Her legacy is not only an eclectic photographic oeuvre but also a strong opinion on the role of photography in society, to which she gave expression in numerous publications. Her work forms a bridge linking the artistic avant-garde in the ‘Old World’ with the emerging art scene of the 1920s and 1930s in New York.

 

Modernity

The idea of modernity pervades all of Berenice Abbott’s work: from her portraits of pioneering artists and intellectuals, and her astonishing views of the city of New York, to her photos of scientific themes, documenting the results of various physics experiments. Abbott’s oeuvre also reflects her own modernism, her constant desire to be on the front line, and her exceptional talent for not just noticing the changes that were going on around her but for depicting them to striking effect. Berenice Abbott was an enthusiastic proponent of modernism in photography, and was strongly opposed to pictoralism, the painterly style that dominated photography in the early 20th century. In her view a good photograph was shaped by the specific characteristics of photography itself, and not by those of painting.

 

Lost Generation

In 1918 Berenice Abbott left her birthplace Ohio and moved to New York to study sculpture, where she soon gravitated towards Greenwich Village, a hotbed of avant-garde and radical artists, bohemians, and others whose lifestyles put them outside the American mainstream. In 1921 she arrived in Paris and joined the artistic community of Montparnasse on the famous left bank of the Seine. Its writers and artists included many American expats who, disillusioned by the senseless violence of the First World War and by Prohibition in America, had taken refuge in Europe. The American writer Gertrude Stein called them the ‘lost generation’, a generation to which Abbott also belonged, which questioned traditional values and favoured an alternative kind of life. Abbott would go on to portray many of these writers, including Djuna Barnes and Edna St. Vincent Millay.

 

Portrait photographer

Abbott’s life as a photographer began in 1923, in the Parisian studio of the famous American photographer, Dadaist and Surrealist Man Ray. As his assistant she learned the technical, artistic and commercial aspects of portrait photography. In 1926, with financial support from the immensely rich American art collector Peggy Guggenheim, she opened her own Paris studio. Her clients were mostly expats, socialites, bohemians, writers, artists and the ‘new women’ who, like herself, were willing to live on the margins of society in order to be free. Many had broken ties with their origins and their gender, such as the journalist Janet Flanner, the publisher Jane Heap, and the writer Sylvia Beach. Abbott immortalised them in assertive, powerful portraits. Beach was also the publisher of James Joyce’ Ulysses (1922), a book that Abbott greatly admired, and she portrayed the writer, his wife and daughter on several occasions.

 

Eugène Atget

Through Man Ray in Paris Abbott met the photographer Eugène Atget, with whose work she felt an immediate visual and artistic affinity. For decades Atget had documented Paris in plain, unadorned images, and with a keen eye for seemingly unimportant details. After his death in 1927 Abbott looked after a large part of his oeuvre, promoting it tirelessly in America through exhibitions and books. The present exhibition therefore also includes a small selection of photos by Eugène Atget, which Abbott printed from the original negatives in 1956.

 

Changing New York

The heart of the exhibition is formed by Abbott’s photos of New York City. When she returned to New York in 1929 she felt an immediate urge to photograph the city itself, with its enormous contrasts and contradictions, a city that changed constantly and was never the same from moment to moment. In 1935 she received a substantial grant from the Federal Art Project, a government initiative that was intended to create jobs and boost the economy following the crisis years, and this allowed her to begin work in earnest. She called her project Changing New York; it was also published in book form in 1939, with texts by her partner Elizabeth McCausland. Her camera transformed New York into a living being, with an extraordinary character, which visitors can experience to this day as they move through its busy streets and stare amazed at the modern beauty of its skyscrapers. Shops, people, bridges, streets, interiors, construction sites, iconic buildings seen from outside or from above – everything comes together to create a portrait of the city.

 

Science

In the late 1930s Abbott became deeply interested in science, and saw that photography could play a role as spokesperson. The cerebral world of science needed the vitality and imaginative powers of photography to reach a wider audience. Moreover, the scientific interpretation of the world was not reserved for scientists alone; any citizen ought to be able to consider a scientific question, and photography could serve as an intermediary. With this goal in mind, for years Abbott did darkroom experiments with all kinds of camera techniques. In 1957 the Physical Science Study Committee of the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology hired her services to provide photographic illustrations for new and influential schoolbooks.

 

Curation

The exhibition was created in collaboration with Fundación MAPFRE, a Spanish non-profit organisation with which Huis Marseille has worked regularly over the last ten years – most recently in 2016 for the Stephen Shore retrospective in Huis Marseille. It was curated by Estrella de Diego, Professor of Modern Art at the Complutense University of Madrid, and has been shown in Barcelona and Madrid.

 

Loans

The exhibition comprises almost 200 vintage photographs generously loaned from the New York Public Library, the Museum of the City of New York, the International Center of Photography (NY), the George Eastman House (Rochester, NY), the Howard Greenberg Gallery (NY) and the MIT Museum (Cambridge, Massachusetts), together with a selection of Abbott’s publications on loan from the Rijksmuseum library and other collections.

 

Publication

Estrella de Diego, Julia van Haaften, Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity, Madrid (Fundación Mapfre) 2019.

Text from the Huis Marseille website

 

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Jean Cocteau' 1927 (installation view)

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Jean Cocteau' 1927 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Jean Cocteau (installation views)
1927
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Jean Cocteau, the author of so many memorable films and works of literature, is shown embracing a sort of mask that perhaps alludes to the repeated play of mirrors that runs through his Orphic Trilogy. He represents the kind of masculinity that Abbott renders in her portraits of homosexual activists such as André Gide and Cocteau or the ‘new men’ who had ceased to be certain of their identity – like the characters in the novels of George Bernard Shaw or Thomas Hardy – and had adopted a less monolithic masculinity. This trait can also be found in D.H. Lawrence, and in James Joyce, who sat for Abbott in 1928.

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Janet Flanner in Paris' 1927 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Janet Flanner in Paris (installation view)
1927
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam showing the exhibition 'Janet Flanner in Paris', 1927

 

Installation view of the exhibition Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam showing the exhibition Janet Flanner in Paris, 1927
Photo: Eddo Hartmann

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Janet Flanner in Paris' 1927

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Janet Flanner in Paris
1927
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations

 

 

Abbott’s portraits depict some of the modern intellectuals with whom she associated in New York’s Greenwich Village following her arrival there from the native Ohio. These included people who also had links with Paris, such as the writer and journalist Janet Flanner, a personal friend of the writer Djuna Barnes. Abbott gave Flanner an ambiguous aspect; with her cropped hair and masculine dress she is another representative of the strong ‘New Women’. Abbott photographed many of these New Women who were prepared to live on the margins of society in order to safeguard their freedom.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

 

Installation views of the exhibition Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam showing in the top image, the photographs of Janet Flanner (above) Eugène Atget (below)
Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Eugène Atget' 1927

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Eugène Atget (installation view)
1927
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Eugène Atget' 1927

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Eugène Atget
1927
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Eugène Atget' 1927

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Eugène Atget (installation view)
1927
Gelatin silver print
International Center of Photography
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

In 1927 Berenice Abbott produced two portraits, front-facing and in profile, of Eugène Atget, the photographer who was adored by the Surrealists and who captured the mood of late 19th-century Paris. The portraits, reminiscent of a documentary work – of police records, almost – highlight Abbott’s extraordinary skill as a portrait photographer. Atget provided the inspiration for Abbott’s wonderful portrait of New York City, Changing New York. She made generous efforts to promote the French photographer’s work, even acquiring his negatives after his death.

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Eugène Atget' 1927

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Eugène Atget
1927
Gelatin silver print
International Center of Photography

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam showing Abbott's photographs of Eugène Atget

 

Installation view of the exhibition Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam showing Abbott’s photographs of Eugène Atget
Photo: Eddo Hartmann

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) James Joyce, Paris 1920 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
James Joyce, Paris (installation view)
1920
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Audrey McMahon' 1925-1946 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Audrey McMahon (installation view)
1925-1946
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Audrey McMahon was the Director of the New York region of the Federal Art Project from 1935 to 1943; the region she oversaw included New York City, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. Born in New York City in 1898, she attended the Sorbonne, and she was the director of the College Art Association. …

Her approach to the administration of the Federal Art Project attempted to give the artists employed a great deal of freedom, and as she recalled later, “It is gratifying to note… that almost all of the painters, sculptors, graphic artists, and muralists who recall those days remember little or no artistic stricture.”

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Jane Heap' 1929-1931 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Jane Heap (installation view)
1929-1931
Gelatin silver print
International Center of Photography
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Jane Heap (November 1, 1883 – June 18, 1964) was an American publisher and a significant figure in the development and promotion of literary modernism. Together with Margaret Anderson, her friend and business partner (who for some years was also her lover), she edited the celebrated literary magazine The Little Review, which published an extraordinary collection of modern American, English and Irish writers between 1914 and 1929. Heap herself has been called “one of the most neglected contributors to the transmission of modernism between America and Europe during the early twentieth century.”

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Jane Heap' 1929-1931

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Jane Heap
1929-1931
Gelatin silver print
International Center of Photography
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

 

Installation views of the exhibition Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam
Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

 

Installation views of the exhibition Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam with at bottom left, Eugène Atget’s photo Eclipse, Paris 1912
Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927) 'L'éclipse' April 1912 (installation view)

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927)
L’éclipse (installation view)
April 1912
Printed in 1956 by Berenice Abbott
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of George Eastman Museum
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927) 'Pendant l'éclipse' 1912

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Pendant l’éclipse
1912
Albumen print

 

 

Although the moon is not visible in this photograph by Eugène Atget, its presence and appeal are implied. The crowd gathered in Paris’s Place de la Bastille on April 17, 1912, was observing a solar eclipse through viewing apparatuses. Atget, rather than recording the astronomical event itself, turned his attention to its spectators. Though Atget made more than 8,500 pictures of Paris and its environs in a career that spanned over thirty years – most documenting the built environment – this photograph is an unusual example that focuses on a crowd of people.

Text from the MoMA website

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

 

Installation views of the exhibition Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam showing the photographs of Eugène Atget with at second right Avenue des Gobelins, 1925
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927) 'Avenue des Gobelins' 1925

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Avenue des Gobelins
1925
Albumen print

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927) 'Interior of a worker's room, Rue de Romainville, 19th arr.' c. 1910 (installation view)

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Interior of a worker’s room, Rue de Romainville, 19th arr. (installation view)
c. 1910
Printed in 1956 by Berenice Abbott
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of George Eastman Museum
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927) 'Courtyard, 7 Rue de Valence, 5th arr.' June 1922 (installation view)

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Courtyard, 7 Rue de Valence, 5th arr. (installation view)
June 1922
Printed in 1956 by Berenice Abbott
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of George Eastman Museum
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927) 'Courtyard, 7 Rue de Valence, 5th arr.' June 1922

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Courtyard, 7 Rue de Valence, 5th arr.
June 1922
Gelatin silver print
In portfolio: 20 photographs by Eugène Atget, 1856-1927. New York : Berenice Abbott, 1956, no. 13.
Library of Congress

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927) 'Rue St. Rustique' March 1922 (installation view)

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Rue St. Rustique (installation view)
March 1922
Printed in 1956 by Berenice Abbott
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of George Eastman Museum
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927) 'Rue St. Rustique' March 1922

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Rue St. Rustique
March 1922
Gelatin silver print
In portfolio: 20 photographs by Eugène Atget, 1856-1927. New York : Berenice Abbott, 1956, no. 9.
Library of Congress

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927) 'Ragpicker's Hut' 1910 (installation view)

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927) 'Ragpicker's Hut' 1910 (installation view)

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Ragpicker’s Hut (installation views)
1910
Printed in 1956 by Berenice Abbott
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of George Eastman Museum
Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927) 'Street diversions (or B organ)' 1898-99

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Street diversions (or B organ)
1898-1899
Gelatin silver print
In portfolio: 20 photographs by Eugène Atget, 1856-1927. New York : Berenice Abbott, 1956, no. 16
Library of Congress

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927) 'Street Pavers' 1899-1900 (installation view)

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927) 'Street Pavers' 1899-1900 (installation view)

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Street Pavers (installation views)
1899-1900
Printed in 1956 by Berenice Abbott
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of George Eastman Museum
Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927) 'Street Pavers' 1899-1900

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Street Pavers
1899-1900
Gelatin silver print
In portfolio: 20 photographs by Eugène Atget, 1856-1927. New York : Berenice Abbott, 1956, no. 12
Library of Congress

 

 

Abbott saw in Eugène Atget a documentary photographer who revealed in his photographs of Paris a city frozen in time, a city that one might almost describe as antiheroic. Abbott understood that all documentary photography (and an photograph can be documentary, free from fault lines) contains a larger amount of autobiography, and Atget’s photography tells the story of a man and his camera traipsing around the city to seek out its nooks and crannies. To take a photo is to think with your eyes and with your brain. To observe is to be part of the scene.

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927) 'Butcher's shop, Rue Christine' c. 1923 (installation view)

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Butcher’s shop, Rue Christine (installation view)
c. 1923
Printed in 1956 by Berenice Abbott
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of George Eastman Museum
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927) 'Butcher's shop, Rue Christine' c. 1923

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Butcher’s shop, Rue Christine
c. 1923
Gelatin silver print
In portfolio: 20 photographs by Eugène Atget, 1856-1927. New York : Berenice Abbott, 1956, no. 17
Library of Congress

 

 

The surrealists were fascinated by Eugène Atget and his shifting play with Paris’s innermost structure, his phantasmagorias. In contrast with this, Abbott emphasises the documentary characteristics of Atget, at first glance a ‘realist’ photographer who captured the deserted landscapes of the city described by Albert Valentin in 1928 as “cerebral landscapes”. Atget photographed the everyday, the events in the house next door, expressing the sense of encountering the strange in the familiar and the familiar in the strange – rather like Abbott did, years later.

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927) 'Mannequin' 1926-27 (installation view)

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927) 'Mannequin' 1926-27 (installation view)

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Mannequin (installation views)
1926-1927
Printed in 1956 by Berenice Abbott
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of George Eastman Museum
Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927) 'Mannequin' 1926-27

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Mannequin
1926-1927
Gelatin silver print
In portfolio: 20 photographs by Eugène Atget, 1856-1927. New York : Berenice Abbott, 1956, no. 15.
Library of Congress

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927) 'Shop, Avenue des Gobelins' 1925 (installation view)

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Shop, Avenue des Gobelins (installation view)
1925
Printed in 1956 by Berenice Abbott
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of George Eastman Museum
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927) 'Avenue des Gobelins' 1925

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Shop, Avenue des Gobelins
1925
Albumen print

 

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Bar interior, 15 Rue Boyer, 20th arr.
1900-1911
Albumen print

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

 

Installation view of the exhibition Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam showing Aerial View of New York by Night at centre and New York Stock Exchange at centre right
Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

 

Installation view of the exhibition Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam showing at left, Aerial View of New York by Night
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Bernice Abbott. 'Night View, New York City' 1932

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Aerial View of New York by Night
March 20, 1936
Gelatin silver print
International Center of Photography

 

 

The changes in points of view in [the book] Changing New York – which sometimes seem like a juggling act or a pirouette, ways of seeing form above and from outside – are what convert the most emblematic or familiar places into landscape seen for the first time. And then there is the beautiful photograph of New York at night, the image that offers a full view, the one captured whole by our gaze” an exercise in light that prefigures Abbott’s later photographs on scientific themes.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

 

Installation views of the exhibition Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam showing New York Stock Exchange
Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'New York Stock Exchange' 1933

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
New York Stock Exchange
1933
Gelatin silver print
International Center of Photography

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Washington Square, looking north' April 16, 1936 (installation view)

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Washington Square, looking north' April 16, 1936 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Washington Square, looking north (installation views)
April 16, 1936
Gelatin silver print
Museum of the City of New York
Gift of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1949
Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'From Trinity Church Yard' March 1, 1938 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
From Trinity Church Yard (installation view)
March 1, 1938
Gelatin silver print
International Center of Photography
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'John Watts statue, from Trinity Churchyard looking toward One Wall Street, Manhattan' March 1, 1938

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
John Watts statue, from Trinity Churchyard looking toward One Wall Street, Manhattan
March 1, 1938
Gelatin silver print
Wikipedia, Public domain

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Broadway near Broome Street, Manhattan' 1935 (installation view)

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Broadway near Broome Street, Manhattan' 1935 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Broadway near Broome Street, Manhattan (installation views)
1935
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Arts, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

 

Installation view of the exhibition Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam showing at bottom left, Lamport Export Company, 507-511 Broadway, Manhattan October 7, 1935; and at top right, Broadway and Thomas Street 1936
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) Broadway and Thomas Street 1936 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Broadway and Thomas Street (installation view)
1936
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Arts, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

 

Installation view of the exhibition Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam showing at third right, Abbott’s 5th Avenue, No’s 4, 6, 8 March 20, 1936
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

 

Installation view of the exhibition Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam showing Abbott’s 5th Avenue, No’s 4, 6, 8 March 20, 1936
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (1898-1991) 'Fifth Avenue Houses' 1936

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
5th Avenue, No’s 4, 6, 8
March 20, 1936
Gelatin silver print
International Center of Photography

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Tempo of the City II, Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street looking west from Seymour Building, 503 Fifth Avenue' September 6, 1938

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Tempo of the City II, Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street looking west from Seymour Building, 503 Fifth Avenue
September 6, 1938
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection
Wikipedia, Public domain

 

Installation view of the exhibition Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Allen Street, No’s 55-57, Manhattan (installation view)
1937
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Arts, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Huis Marseille
Keizersgracht 401
1016 EK Amsterdam
Phone: +31 20 531 89 89

Opening hours
Tuesday – Sunday, 11 – 18 h

Huis Marseille website

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top