History of photography

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14 - 15
History of photography
Abbe James
Allen Albert
Bailey David

Beaton Cecil
Cunningham Imogen
Carroll Lewis
Drtikol Frantisek
Duhrkoop Rudolf
Eisenstaedt Alfred
Feininger  Andreas
Halsman Philippe
Heartfield John
Horst P. Horst
Kasebier Gertrude
Kirkland Douglas
Lartigue Jacques Henri
Laughlin Clarence John


Maar Dora
Man Ray

Miller Lee
Munkacsi Martin


Outerbridge Paul


Rodchenko Alexander
Skoglund Sandy
Smith William Eugene
Smith Rodney
Tabard Maurice
  Watson Albert

Photography and Industrialism

Between the Armistice of 1918 and the Depression of the 1930s, the remarkable expansion of industrial capacity throughout the world commanded the attention of for-ward-looking photographers everywhere. The widespread belief in progress through technology held by followers of the Bauhaus, by Soviet Constructivists, and by American industrialists provided inspiration and, in conjunction with the emergence of pictorial advertising, made possible unprecedented opportunities to photograph industrial subjects and sites. As might be expected, Europeans often treated these themes more experimentally than Americans. For example, Hans Finslers Bridge at Halle and the American Sherril V. Schell's Brooklyn Bridge are each concerned with geometric design, but the vertiginous angle of the former is at once disorienting and stimulating in contrast to Schell's spatially more comprehensible and starkly decorative treatment. Many Europeans, among them Use Bing, Germaine Krull, and Eli Lotar, emphasized abstract qualities and formal relation-ships without suggesting the utilitarian component of their industrial subject matter. In another example, the acute upward angle chosen by Russian photographer Boris Ignatowich expresses the force and energy embodied in these structural beams but tells little about the size, shape, or usefulness of the objects pictured.

Not so in the United States, where machine images achieved a balance between expressive and descriptive elements in part because they were commissioned by industrial firms for advertising and public relations. However, even the photographs of machine tools, products, and mills made by Strand, Outerbridge, and Weston in the early 1920s idealize technology and suggest that it can be tamed and controlled. The emphasis on line and volume in Sheeler's treatment of the blast furnace and conveyors at the Ford River Rouge plant were rightly assumed to express an "industrial mythos," a faith in industrial production as die sensible new American religion. This view was shared initially by Bourke-White, whose expressive handling of modernist vocabulary can be seen in a forceful 1929 image of a bridge structure in Cleveland taken before a commission for a large steel company launched her on an illustrious career as one of America's leading industrial photographers. While Sheeler and Bourke-White were the most renowned, by the mid-1930s Bruehl, John Mudd, William Rittase, and Thurman Rotan also were associated with high quality industrial photography commissioned for advertisements and articles. And although Hine was motivated by a wish to celebrate the worker behind the machine rather than by any reverence for industrial formation as such, his factory images and views of the Empire State Building in construction also reflect a belief that machines and technology ultimately were beneficial to mankind.

Industrial images were made mainly for advertisements and publicity in trade journals, but the interest in this theme among artists and intellectuals can be gauged by the many gallery exhibitions and articles in general publications on this theme that appeared during the 1920s and early '30s. One example might suffice: of the images submitted to the Exhibition of Photographic Mural Design, held at the Museum of Modern Art in 1932, the largest number were concerned with industrial subjects. Sheeler submitted a montage triptych based on the River Rouge images, while Abbott, Aubrey Bodine, Rotan, and Steichen entered works depicting skyscraper construction, smelting furnaces, and bridge structures. In the late 1920s, industrial and machine images began to appear in popular photographic journals, annuals, and Pictorialist salons also. The acceptance of "Beauty in Ugliness," as one article called it, occurred almost a quarter of a century after Coburn had justly pointed out that both bridgebuilder and photographer were creatures of the modern era.

HANS FINSLER. Bridge at Halle, c. 1929.
Gelatin silver print. Kunstgewerbemuseum der Stadt, Zurich, Switzerland.

SHERRIL V. SCHELL. Brooklyn Bridge.
Gelatin silver print. Art Institute of Chicago; Julicn Levy Collection.


ILSE BlNG. Paris, Eiffel Tower Scaffolding with Star, 1931.
Gelatin silver print. Art Institute of Chicago; Julien Levy Collection.


Ilse Bing (23 March 1899 – 10 March 1998) was a German photographer who produced pioneering avant-garde and commercial monochrome images during the inter-war era.
Her move from Frankfurt to Paris in 1930 and its burgeoning avant-garde and surrealist scene was the start of this notable period of her career. Producing images in the fields of photojournalism, architectural photography, advertising and fashion, her work was published in magazines such as Le Monde Illustre, Harper's Bazaar, and Vogue. Respected for her use daring perspectives and cropping, use of natural light and geometries, she also discovered a type of solarisation for negatives independently of a similar process developed by the artist Man Ray.
Her rapid success as a photographer and her position of being the only professional in Paris to use an advanced Leica camera earned her the title "Queen of the Leica" from the critic and photographer Emmanuel Sougez.
In 1936 her work was included in the first modern photography exhibition held at the Louvre, and in 1937 she travelled to New York where her images were included in the landmark exhibition "Photography 1839 – 1937" at the Museum of Modern Art.

BORIS IGNATOVICH. On the Construction Site, 1929.
Gelatin silver print. Sovfoto Magazine and VAAP, Moscow.


(1899 - 1976)

Boris Ignatovich is one of the outstanding photographers of the Russian avant-garde - the pioneers of photo journalism. He belonged to the Rodchenko and Lissitzky circle of artists and was closely affiliated and befriended with professional photographers like Alpert and Shaikhet, Skurichin and Shagin, Langman and Sterzer, Fridljand and Tules, Markov and Chalip, Petrusov and Kovrigin as well as Gruntal and Chlebnikov, the masters of subject- and document related photography.

For the avant-garde artist amongst the photographers of the 1920's there had been three different ways of becoming involved in photography. The first group started with painting and graphics and progressed to photography by working with polygraphy. The careers of Rodchenko and Lissitzky like those of the propaganda artists Gustav Kluzic and Sergej Senkin, the graphic artist and designer Nikolai Setelnikov and the architect and designer Georgij Zimin, who devoted himself to the photogram rather unexpectedly, followed this path. Others however began their professional career as photographers in photographic studios, alternatively through literature and journalism establishing contacts with writers, editors and working as journalists. Some professional writers also turned to photography. Photographs exist of writers like I. Ehrenburg, I. Ilf and S. Tretiakov.

Ignatovich was a journalist before becoming a photographer. During the autumn of 1918, he worked at the editor's office of the Lugansk magazine "Severo-Donezki Communist" and subsequently went to the Kharkov magazine "Krasnaja swesda". In 1920 he was appointed editor of the newly founded magazine "Krasnaja Bashkirija" and was sent as a delegate to the first Allunion congress of ROSTA workers. In 1921 he worked as chief editor for the magazine "Gornjak" (together with M. Mikov), where he published satirical poems by Majakovskij. Between 1922 and 1925 he was chief editor of the Leningrad humoristic magazines "Dresina", "Smechatsh" and "Busoter".
Ignatovich later remembered his first experiences with photography.

MARGARET BOURKE-WHITE. High Level Bridge, Cleveland, 1929.
Gelatin silver print. George Arents Research Library, Syracuse University. Svracuse, N.Y.


The New Vision: The Nude

The nude also appealed to photographers of the new vision. A quintessentially artistic theme, it lent itself to a variety of visual experiments in Europe, figuring in montages, solarizations, oblique and close-up views by Feininger, Hausmann, Resting, Man Ray, Moholy-Nagy, and Tabard, among others. The work of Frantisek Drtikol, a Czech, can be taken as typical of the artfulness with which the theme was handled; it was unusual, too, in that Pictorialist darkroom processes, such as pigment printing, were used for avant-garde ends,, creating mannered and stylized "art deco" arrangements typified by an untitled image of 1927.

As a theme, the nude—male as well as female— inspired special interest among American photographers who were relieved to find the subject more acceptable in straight photography than it had been before. Besides Sticglitz, whose belief in the nude as a symbol of life-giving energy inspired his images of O'Keeffe, others who sought ways of imbuing this subject with vitality included Cunningham, Outerbridge, Sheeler, Strand, and Weston. A 1928 work by Cunningham  transforms a torso into a series of irregular triangles that are affecting because the geometrical shapes still intimate the softness of flesh, and evoke a delicately sensual feeling. Weston, according to companion Charis Wilson, found in the female nude image a "lifelong challenge"—an instrument to explore both the formal problems involved in the new vision and his own sexuality. Nude, 1926, transforms sentient flesh into stone hardness, suggesting that "the diing itself can be transmuted according to one's perceptions into something odier. While less common, photographs of the male nude or of both sexes together, were made by a small number of photographers, among them Lynes, whose study  turns reality into fantasy. Through his handling of the shadows that suggest the ambiguous nature of sexuality, Lynes found a means to give photographic form to Surrealist concepts. In view of the affinities between movements in graphic art and photographic expression during this period, it is not surprising to find the camera used in the late 1920s to explore Surrealist ideas and vocabulary. Montage and other darkroom techniques mentioned earlier provided an obvious means to express fantasy visions, but the desire to present the subconscious as an aspect of reality impelled straight photographers to fabricate, arrange, and illuminate objects and their settings in order to create synthetic realities. Manikins and dolls often were seen as metaphors of sexuality, as in the work of the Argentinian photogra-pher Horacio Coppola, or in the bizarre creations of the German artist Hans Bellmer, who made movable papier mache figures that he photographed in various postures and settings. A number of photographers, including Umbo (Otto Umbehrs), utilized commercial manikins as symbols of the real/unreal conundrum explored by Surrealists ). Erwin Blumenfeld, born in Germany but active in fashion photography in Paris and later the United States, romanticized the Surrealist genre by draping the nude figure in wet muslin; the results suggest classical sculpture given rapturous animation. As one of the few who successfully adapted Surrealism to fashion photography, his contribution will be discussed in the next chapter, along with others who made commercial use of the style. Still others, whose interest in enigmas, dreams, and fantasies did not begin until the late 1930s and '40s, will be treated in subsequent chapters.


(French, 1897–1984)

At an early age, Maurice Tabard studied fabric design at his father's silk manufacturing plant in France. The family relocated to the United States for his father's work and Tabard studied photography at the New York Institute of Photography. He returned to France in the late 1920s and continued his experimentation with double exposures and solarization techniques, producing surrealist portraits, and still lifes. Tabard worked in the fashion, advertising and portrait photography industries from 1928-1938. Most of his work, including his entire negative archive, was lost during WWII. Tabard retired in 1965 and moved to Nice in 1980.

Maurice Tabard


FRANTISEK DRTIKOL. Untitled, 1927.
Gelatin silver or bromoil print. Private collection.


Frantisek Drtikol (1883-1961) was a Czech photographer of international renown. He is especially known for his characteristically epic photographs, often nudes and portraits.
From 1907 to 1910 he had his own studio, until 1935 he operated an important portrait photostudio in Prague on the fourth floor of one of Prague's remarkable buildings, a Baroque corner house at 9 Vodickova, now demolished. Drikol made many portraits of very important people and nudes which show development from pictorialism and symbolism to modern composite pictures of the nude body with geometric decorations and thrown shadows, where it is possible to find a number of parallels with the avant-garde works of the period. There are reminiscent of Cubism and at the same time his nudes suggest the kind of movement that was characteristic of the futurism aesthetic. He began using paper cut-outs in a period he called "photopurism". These photographs resembled silhouettes of the human form. Later he gave up photography and concentrated on painting. After the studio was sold Drtikol focused mainly on painting, Buddhist religious and philosophical systems. In the final stage of his photographic work Drtikol created compositions of little carved figures, with elongated shapes, symbolically expressing various themes from Buddhism. In the 1920s and 1930s, he received significant awards at international photo salons. Drikol has published: "Le nus de Drikol" (1929), "Zena ve svetle"(Woman in the light)(1938). Sources: Anna Farova, "Frantisek Drtikol. Photograph des Art Deco", 1986. Vladimir Birgus, "Drtikol. Modernist Nudes", 1997. Vladimir Birgus and Jan Mlcoch, "Akt v Czech Photography", 2001. Alessandro Bertolotti, "Books of nudes", 2007.

IMOGEN CUNNINGHAM. Triangles, 1928.
Gelatin silver print.



George Platt Lynes (15 April 1907 – 6 December 1955) was an American fashion and commercial photographer.
Born in East Orange, New Jersey to Adelaide (Sparkman) and Joseph Russell Lynes he spent his childhood in New Jersey but attended the Berkshire School in Massachusetts. He was sent to Paris in 1925 with the idea of better preparing him for college. His life was forever changed by the circle of friends that he would meet there. Gertrude Stein, Glenway Wescott, Monroe Wheeler and those that he met through them opened an entirely new world to the young artist.
He returned to the United States with the idea of a literary career and he even opened a bookstore in Englewood, New Jersey in 1927. He first became interested in photography not with the idea of a career, but to take photographs of his friends and displayed them in his bookstore.
Returning to France the next year in the company of Wescott and Wheeler, he traveled around Europe for the next several years, always with his camera at hand. He developed close friendships within a larger circle of artists including Jean Cocteau and Julien Levy the art dealer and critic. Levy would exhibit his photographs in his gallery in New York City in 1932 and Lynes would open his studio there that same year. He was soon receiving commissions from Harper's Bazaar, Town & Country and Vogue including a cover with perhaps the first supermodel, Lisa Fonssagrives.
In 1935 he was asked to document the principal dancers and productions of Lincoln Kirstein's and George Balanchine's newly founded American Ballet company (now the New York City Ballet).While he continued to shoot fashion photographs, getting accounts with such major clients as Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue during the 1930s and 1940s he was losing interest and had started a series of photographs which interpreted characters and stories from Greek mythology.
By the mid-1940s he grew disillusioned with New York and left for Hollywood in 1946 where he took the post of Chief Photographer for the Vogue studios. He photographed Katharine Hepburn, Rosalind Russell, Gloria Swanson and Orson Welles, from the film industry as well as others in the arts among them Aldous Huxley, Igor Stravinsky and Thomas Mann. While a success artistically it was a financial failure.
His friends helped him to move back to New York City in 1948. Other photographers, such as Richard Avedon, Edgar de Evia and Irving Penn, had taken his place in the fashion world. This combined with his disinterest in commercial work, meant he was never able to regain the successes he once had.
Focus on homoerotic imagery started to take over his photographic life. He had begun in the 1930s taking nudes of his circle of friends and performers, including a young Yul Brynner, but these had been known only to intimates for years. He began working with Dr. Alfred Kinsey and his Institute in Bloomington, Indiana. The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, as it is known today holds the largest collection of his male nudes. Twice he declared bankruptcy.
By May of 1955 he had been diagnosed terminally ill with lung cancer. He closed his studio. He destroyed much of his print and negative archives particularly his male nudes. After a final trip to Europe, Lynes returned to New York City where he died.

Robert McVoy by George Platt Lynes c.1941


HORACIO COPPOLA. Grandmother's Doll, 1932.
Gelatin silver print. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; purchase.
Courtesy Sander Gallery. New York.

550. HANS BELLMER. Les Jeux de la Poupee (Doll's Games), plate VIII, 1936.
Gelatin silver print with applied color. Robert Miller Gallery, New York.


(b Kattowitz, Germany [now Katowice, Poland], 13 March 1902; d Paris, 24 Feb 1975v)

German photographer, sculptor, printmaker, painter and writer. As a child he developed fear and hatred for his tyrannical father, who totally dominated his gentle and affectionate mother. He and his younger brother Fritz found refuge from this oppressive family atmosphere in a secret garden decorated with toys and souvenirs and visited by young girls who joined in sexual games. In 1923 Bellmer was sent by his father to study engineering at the Technische Hochschule in Berlin, but he became interested in politics, reading the works of Marx and Lenin and joining in discussions with artists of the Dada Movement. He was especially close to George Grosz, who taught him drawing and perspective in 1924 and whose advice to be a savage critic of society led him to abandon his engineering studies in that year. Having shown artistic talent at an early age, he began designing advertisements as a commercial artist and illustrated various Dada novels, such as Das Eisenbahnglück oder der Antifreud (1925) by Mynona, in a style influenced by Grosz.



Born Otto Umbehr in Dusseldorf, Umbo was a pioneering photojournalist also known for his compelling portraiture. Following studies in painting and design at the Bauhaus (1921-23), Umbo moved to Berlin where he undertook various jobs, including camera assistant to Walter Ruttmann on the documentary film Berlin, Die Sinfonie einer Grosstadt (Berlin, Symphony of a Great City, completed 1927). In 1926 he began a career as a professional photographer, opening a portrait studio with the assistance of Paul Citroën, a former Bauhaus colleague. He soon became known for his striking portraits produced using extreme closeups and dramatic lighting.
In 1928 Umbo joined Simon Guttmann's recently established Dephot (Deutsche Photodienst), the first cooperative photojournalist agency, managing the studio and contributing photographs until the agency was dissolved in 1933. During this time his work appeared in magazines such as the Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, the Münchner Illustrierte Presse, Die Dame, and Die Koralle. He also experimented with multiple exposure, unusual camera angles, photomontage, collage, and x-ray film, and in 1929 took part in Film und Foto, the important international exhibition of avant-garde photography and film held in Stuttgart.
Throughout the 1930s and early 1940s, Umbo worked as a freelance photojournalist, traveling to North Africa and Italy on assignment. During World War II he served in the German army (1943-45), losing all his prints and negatives when his studio was destroyed. After the war Umbo moved to Hanover, where he continued freelance work. From 1957 until the early 1970s he also taught photography in Bad Pyrmont, Hildesheim, and Hanover. M.M.

Umbo. Ballet Audition, 1929



Erwin Blumenfeld (1897-1969) was a famous American photographer of German origin.

In the 1930s, he published collages mocking Adolf Hitler. In 1936, he emigrated to Paris. With the German occupation, he was interned in a concentration camp in 1940 because he was Jewish. In 1941, he could escape to the USA.
In the 1940s and 1950s he became famous for his fashion photography, working for Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, and also for artistic nude photography. In the 1960s, he worked on his autobiography which found no publisher because it was considered to be too ironic towards society, and was published only after his death.

Erwin Blumenfeld was a renowned photographer whose work is situated between 1930 and 1969. He was born in Berlin on 26 January 1897, moved to Holland late 1918, and started a professional career in photography in 1934. He moved to France in 1936 and came to the United States in 1941 where he became a US citizen in 1946. His more personal work is in black and white; his commercial work in fashion, much for Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, is mostly in color. In both media he was a great innovator. In black and white he did all his work personally in the dark room. In color he drew on his extensive background in classical and modern painting. He married Lena Citroen in Holland in 1921 and had three children there: Lisette, Henry Alexander and Frank Yorick. He died in Rome on July 4th, 1969.


Until the 1930s, light graphics, montages, solarizations, and other darkroom manipulations appealed to few American photographers besides Man Ray (who in any case lived in Paris) and Francis Bruguicre, a former California member of the Photo-Secession who had gained renown as a New York theatrical photographer. Around 1926, Bruguiere began to work with multiple exposures and what he called "light abstractions" made by illuminating and exposing cut paper shapes. At times these works transcend the technique of their manufacture, and the flowing abstract forms express a sense of drama and mystery. Following a move to England, Bruguiere continued to "create his own world," producing Surrealist photographs and abstract films, among them Light Rhythms.

After the Bauhaus was reincarnated in the Institute of Design in 1938, montage and camcraless photography came to the attention of a wider spectrum of Americans. Lotte Jacobi, a former Berlin portraitist resettled in New York. began to produce photogenics, the term she used to describe combinations of light graphics and straight imagery. Others who started to regard photography as a way of working with light rather than solely as representing objects included Carlotta Corpron, who embarked on a series of light graphics in response to the teaching of Kepes, Arthur Siegel, whose tenure at the Institute of Design prompted several generations of students to investigate experimental photography, and Barbara Morgan. a former painter open to the full range of experimentalist ideas. In a work entitled Spring on Madison Square, 1938, Morgan invoked both montage and camera-less imagery to express the visual and kinetic energy she discerned in New York City (see also her photographs of dancer Martha Graham.

Toward the end of the 1920s, the key concepts behind the new photography had become clearly articulated. A 1928 article entitled "Nicht Mehr lesen, Sehern" ("Forget Reading, See") acclaimed camera images as "the greatest of all contemporary physical, chemical, technological wonders," with the capacity to "be one of the most effective weapons against . . . the mechanization of spirit," a statement that in essence repeats the ideas expressed a decade earlier by Strand. The following year, this grand concept was embodied in both the exhibition Film Und Foto (Fifo) organized by the Deutschcs Werkbund at Stuttgart. Germany, and in the publication based on it by photographer Franz Roh and graphic designer Jan Tschichold entitled Foto AugelOeil et PhotolPkoto Eye. The exhibit, its dramatic poster depicting man and camera dominating the world, included photographs by Europeans and Americans, the latter, selected by Stcichen and Weston. Included were scientific works, publicity, advertising, and fashion photographs, collages, montages, light graphics, movie stills, and straight images made as personal expression.

This show (as well as others in various localities that both preceded and followed it) summed up the extraordinary vitality of photographic communication of the time and revealed avenues that have continued to invigorate the medium up until the present. It reflected an ardent belief that the fresh vision of reality that issued from the camera would, in common with other products of the machine, improve the quality of ordinary life and permit the creative control of technology. Curiously Fifo omitted photojournalism, a technological force that already had begun to exert a compelling {and not always beneficial) influence on the reading public's perception of events. Along with the development of advertising and publicity, the relationship of word and image in print journalism became increasingly significant factors and will be explored in the following chapter.

FRANCIS BRUGUIERE. Light Abstraction, 1920s.
Gelatin silver print. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

LOTTE JACOBI. Photogenic, c. 1940S-50S.
Gelatin silver print. The Lotte Jacobi Collection.


Lotte Johanna Alexandra Jacobi (August 17, 1896 – May 6, 1990) was a German photographer, who immigrated to the United States to escape Nazi Germany. Born in Thorn (Toruń) in Prussia (now in Poland), she spent parts of her life in Berlin (1925-1935), New York City (1935-1955), and New Hampshire (1955-1990). She photographed such people as Albert Einstein, Thomas Mann, Robert Frost, Marc Chagall, Eleanor Roosevelt, Alfred Stieglitz, J.D. Salinger, Paul Robeson, May Sarton, Pauline Koner, Bernice Abbott and Edward Steichen. After completing her formal studies (1925 – 1927), Jacobi entered the family photography business in 1927. During this same period (1926-27) she began her professional work as a photographer, and she also produced four films, the most important being Portrait of the Artist, a study of Josef Scharl. From October of 1932 to January of 1933, Lotte traveled to the Soviet Union, in particular to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, taking photographs of what she saw. She returned to Berlin in February 1933, one month after Hitler came to power. As persecution against Jews increased, Lotte left Germany with her son, arriving in September 1935 in New York City, where she opened a studio in Manhattan. In 1940, Lotte married Erich Reiss, a distinguished German publisher and writer, a marriage that lasted until his death in 1951. During this time, she continued portrait photography at her studio, while also embarking upon an experimental type of photographic work that artist Leo Katz later named photogenics. They refer to the abstract black-and-white images that she produced by moving torches and candles over light-sensitive paper. In 1955, Lotte left New York with her son and daughter-in-law and moved to Deering, New Hampshire, a move that changed her life. There she opened a new studio. Lotte Jacobi is best known for her photographic portraits, which act as a "chronicle of an era." The list of her subjects reads like a who's who of the 20th century: W. H. Auden, Martin Buber, Marc Chagall, W.E.B. Du Bois, Albert Einstein, Robert Frost, Käthe Kollwitz, Lotte Lenya, Peter Lorre, Thomas Mann, Max Planck, Eleanor Roosevelt, J.D. Salinger, Alfred Stieglitz, and Chaim Weizmann, to name but a few. Jacobi traveled around from assignment to assignment with her equipment bringing the studio to her models. She liked to wait until the models were most at ease before taking a photograph.

CARLOTTA CORPRON. Mardi Cras. c. 1946.
Gelatin silver print. Marcuse Pfeifer Gallery, New York.

BARBARA MORGAN. Spring on Madison Square, 1938.
Gelatin silver print.

BARBARA MORGAN. Maitha Graham: Letter to the World (Kick), 1940.
Gelatin silver print.

Film und Foto International Exhibition, Stuttgart, Germany, 1929.
Poster. Kunstbibliothek mit Museum fur Architekcur, Modebild und Grafik-Design;
Staadiche Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin.

Lazslo Moholy-Nagy

Lazslo Moholy-Nagy, a "Renaissance" figure of the technical era, was active in a spectrum of endeavors that included painting, photography, film, and industrial and graphic design. He ignored traditional distinctions between graphic and photographic expression, between art for self-expression and for utility, and between practice and theory to work creatively in all the styles and media of his choice.

As a writer and teacher, he explored many of the unconventional areas of visual activity that continue to engage artists—among them, abstract film, light shows, constructed environments, and mixed-media events.

Born in a provincial section of Hungary in 1895, Moholy-Nagy studied law while also participating in art and literary activities in his native land and in Vienna before and after his army service during World War I. He moved to Berlin in 1920, making contact with the Dadaists and soon becoming well known in avant-garde circles for his paintings, light graphics, and articles based on Constructivist theory. While he was serving as director of the metal workshop and later of the foundation course of the Bauhaus, Moholy-Nagy and his wife, Lucia Moholy (herself a photographer), worked together to explore the potentials of light for plastic expression. As "manipulators of light," they suggested that through the technological medium of photography artists in the industrial era could arrive at individualized nonmechanical expression.

After leaving the Bauhaus in 1928, Moholy-Nagy worked on exhibitions, stage designs, and films in Berlin before being forced by events in Germany to emigrate to Amsterdam in 1935. A year later he moved to London, and in order to support himself took on commercial assignments in photography, including a commission to illustrate several books. In 1937, he was invited to head a reactivated Bauhaus being set up in the United States, which a year later was established as the School of Design (later Institute of Design) in Chicago. He died in that city in 1946.

Moholy-Nagy's photographic output spanned the entire range of ideas, processes, and techniques embraced by the concept of the "new vision," which he had helped to formulate. Included are views from above and below, close-ups, collages, montages, reflections, refractions, and cameraless images made by manipulating light through various devices. Moholy-Nagy embraced portraiture, landscape, the nude, architecture, the machine, organic form, and the urban street scene. His work does not fall exclusively within any one of the distinctive styles of the period, but one unifying thread is its extraordinary liveliness, reflective of the photographer's interest in actual life as well as in problems of form.

Moholy-Nagy's oft-quoted statement that "the illiterate of the future will be ignorant of camera and pen alike" stems from his understanding of the camera as a modern graphic tool —a device for capturing aspects of reality that could stand by themselves or be reworked into other visual statements. In addition to his book Malerei Fotqgrafie Film (Painting Photography Film), 1925, these concepts were embodied in numerous other publications, which include "Light—A Medium of Plastic Expression," published in the American magazine Broom in 1923, and Vision in Motion, which appeared posthumously in 1947. Though Moholy-Nagy has long been admired mainly as theorist and teacher, it is possible that in the nature his photographs themselves will be regarded as equally significant expressions of his ideas.

Lazslo Moholy-Nagy. Photomontage


Paul Strand

Paul Strand's debut in photography coincided with the first stirrings of modernism in the visual arts in America. Born in New York in 1890, he attended both the class and the club in photography taught by Hine at the Ethical Culture School in 1908. A visit to Stieglitz's 291 gallery arranged by Hine inspired Strand to explore the expressive possibilities of the medium, which until then he had considered a hobby. Although he was active for a brief period at the Camera Club of New York, whose darkrooms he continued to use for about 20 years, his ideas derived first from the circle around Stieglitz and then from the group that evolved around the Modern Gallery in 1915, including Shecler and Schamberg. Strand's work, which was exhibited at 291, the Modern Gallery, and the Camera Club, gained prizes at the Wanamaker Photography exhibitions and was featured in the last two issues of Camera Work. From about 1915 on, he explored the visual problems that were to become fundamental to the modernist aesthetic as it evolved in both Europe and the United States. During the 1920s he mainly photographed urban sites, continued with the machine forms (pi. no. 578) begun earlier, and turned his attention to nature, using 5x7 and 8 x 10 inch view cameras and making contact prints on platinum paper. In these works, acknowledged as seminal in the evolution of the New Objectivity, form and feeling are indivisible and intense. In addition, Strand's writings, beginning in 1917 with "Photography and the New God," set forth the necessity for the photographer to evolve an aesthetic based on the objective nature of reality and on the intrinsic capabilities of the large-format camera with sharp lens.

After service in the Army Medical Corps, where he was introduced to X-ray and other medical camera procedures, Strand collaborated with Sheeler on Manhatta, released as New York the Magnificent in 1921. Shortly afterward, he purchased an Akeley movie camera and began to work as a free-lance cinematographer, a career that he followed until the early 1930s when the industry for making news and short features was transferred from New York to the West Coast. Aware of the revolutionary social ideas being tested in Mexico through his visits to the Southwest, Strand sought the opportunity to make still photographs and to produce government-sponsored documentary films; Redes, or The Wave, released in 1934, depicted the economic problems confronting a fishing village near Yera Cruz. Following a futile attempt to assist the Russian director Sergei Eisenstein in the Soviet Union in 1935, Strand worked with Pare Lorentz on The Plough that Broke the Plains, following which he and other progressive filmmakers organized Frontier Films to produce a series of pro-labor and anti-Fascist movies. Their most ambitious production, Native Land, which evolved from a Congressional hearing into antilabor activities, was released in 1941 on the eve of the second World War, at which time its message was considered politically divisive.

Unable to finance filmmaking after World War II. Strand turned to the printed publication for a format that might integrate image and text in a matter akin to the cinema. Time in New England, a collaboration with Nancy Newhall, sought to evoke a sense of past and present through images of artifact and nature combined with quotations from the region's most lucid writers. Strand con-tinued with enterprises of this nature after he moved to Europe in 1950, eventually producing La France de profit (A Profile of France) with Claude Roy (1952), Un Paese (A Village) with Cesare Zavattini (1955), and Tir a' Mhurain with Basil Davidson (1962), among other works. At his death in 1976, he had been photographing for nearly three-quarters of a century, gradually finding his ideal of beauty and decorum in nature and the simple life.

PAUL STRAND. The Family, View II, Luzzara, Italy, 1953.
Gelatin silver print.

Edward Weston

From an accomplished commercial photographer of Pictorialist persuasion, Edward Weston developed into the quintessential American artist/photographer of his time. In Illinois in 1886, he opened a portrait studio in California in 1911, finding time also to exhibit at Pictorialist salons. After his definitive break with Pictorialism, seen in the 1922 Armco images (pi. no.584), Weston embarked on the life of an impecunious but free artist, singlemindedly devoted to creative endeavor. Convinced at this time that the photographer... can depart from the literal recording to whatever extent he chooses" as long as the methods remain "photographic," he controlled form and tone through choice of motif, exposure time, and the use of the ground-glass focusing screen of the large-format camera. This way of working, which he called pre-visualization, was a factor in Weston's exclusion of temporal and transient effects of light, atmosphere, and movement in order to concentrate on revealing the object in its "deepest moment of perception."

Following a four-year period in Mexico, during which he opened a portrait studio with Tina Modotti and became part of the revitalized Mexican artistic movement of the period, Weston returned to a simple existence in Carmel. California. In 1927, he began to photograph single objects —both organic forms and artifacts—removed from their ordinary contexts. In addition to the well-known nautilus shells (pi. no. 560) and green peppers (pi. no. 561), he arranged and illuminated a series of household implements whose shapes seemed intrinsicallv beautiful, and photographed them close-up with great precision in order to reveal "an essence of what lies before the... lens," thus creating an "image more real and comprehensible than the actual object." The nude was especially significant in Weston's work, representing, as it also did for Stieglitz, more than a convenient artistic theme. The cool and elegant forms of the more than one hundred nude studies Weston produced between 1918 and 1945 not only represent his search for formal perfection but also reflect the erotic and sexual enigmas with which he struggled for much of his life.

Freedom from financial strain, made possible by Guggenheim grants in 1937 and 1938—the first awarded to a photographer—enabled Weston to embark on a period of sustained work. In fusing the formal insights gained during the late 1920s with his intense feeling for the California landscape, Weston achieved the richest and most person-ally nuanced imagery of his career. A selection of these photographs appeared in California and the West, published in 1940, and ten years later in an elegantly printed portfolio, My Camera at Point Lobos. Starting in 1923 and continuing for 20 years, Weston kept a daily journal. Published in 1961, three years after his death, his Daybooks, edited by Nancy Newhall, detail the problems of daily existence and creative activity in the photographer's life. A unique document, it lays bare the inner resolve that impelled this photographer to transcend financial distress and emotional anxiety and create works that seem untouched by the mundane or temporal.

EDWARD WESTON. Shells, 1927.
Gelatin silver print. Witkin Gallery, New York.

EDWARD WESTON. Pepper, 1930.
Gelatin silver print. Witkirj Gallery, New York.


The Machine: Icons of the Industrial Ethos

This album presents a selection of images by eight leading American photographers who worked in the Modernist style in the 1920s and '30s. During this period, photography was hailed as the visual medium most in harmony with the conditions and culture of modern life. Factories, machine-tools, assembly lines, multistoried buildings, and mechanized vehicles (in short, the technology that has come to dominate existence in all industrialized societies) attracted photographers who believed that the camera was eminently suited to deal with their forms and textures. In the United States, where the industrial ethos was predominant, reverential attitudes toward machinery and its products were especially strong. Commissions from advertising agencies and publications that sought attractive images of consumer goods and industrial installations made it possible for photographers Edward Steichen and Ralph Steiner to photograph cutlery and typewriters, and for Charles Sheeler and Margaret Bourke-White to celebrate the visual possibilities of the Ford Motor plant and Fort Peck Dam. Others who may have been less convinced of the unalloyed benefits of industrialism—among them Imogen Cunningham, Paul Strand, Willard Van Dyke, and Edward Weston— were nonetheless also drawn to portray water towers, machine tools, ship funnels, and smoke stacks. Whatever the ideological positions of these photographers with regard to machinery, their images reveal a compelling respect for clarity, for clean crisp lines, and for precise geometrical volumes in the products of machine culture.

PAUL STRAND. Lathe No. 3, Akeley Shop, New York, 1923.
Gelatin silver print.

EDWARD STEICHEN. Gorham Sterling Advertisement, 1930.
Published March 1, 1930, in Vogue. Gelatin silver print.

RALPH STEINER. Typewriter Keys,1921-22
Gelatin silver print. Private collection.

WILLARD VAN DYKE. Funnels, 1932.
Gelatin silver print.

MARGARET BOURKE- WHITE. Construction of Giant Pipes Which Will Be Used to Divert a Section
of the Missouri River During the Building of the Fort Peck Dam, Montana, 1936.
Gelatin silver print.

IMOGEN CUNNINGHAM. Shredded Wheat Water Tower, 1928.
Gelatin silver print.Imogen Cunningham Trust, Berkeley, Cal.

EDWARD WESTON. Armco Steel, Ohio, 1922.
Gelatin silver print.

CHARLES SHEFLER. Industry, 1932.
(Montage, middle panel of a triptych). Gelatin silver print. Art Institute of Chicago;
Julien Levy Collection.

"HERE COMES THE NEW PHOTOGRAPHER" was the rallying cry of European modernists in the 1920s. This characterization embraced more than just the fresh aesthetic and conceptual viewpoints discussed in the preceding chapter; it applied equally to photo reportage. As halftone printing techniques and materials improved, new outlets for camera images were opened in journalism and advertising. Fast and portable equipment introduced different ways of working, which in turn changed attitudes about taking, making, and displaying photographs. Even the documentary sensibility, was affected by the spread of photojournalism as magazines became the prime vehicle for picture essays. The relationship of trenchant images to carefully organized texts created an interplay of information, attitudes, and effects that, along with the related enterprises of advertising and publicity, revolutionized the role of the photographer, the nature of the image, and the manner in which the public received news and ideas.

Turn of the Century Trends in Print Media

It is difficult to pinpoint any particular time or event as the start of the new forms of photojournalistic communication, because just before the turn of the century the illustrated magazines already had taken on a different complexion, becoming less oriented toward family reading and more concerned with the needs of the literate urbanized individual. Besides providing this readership with informative and entertaining articles on political matters, cultural and sporting events, and issues of social concern, the weeklies began to recognize "the importance of the camera as a means of illustration."5 It is true that engravings and lithographs based on photographs had enlivened magazines since the mid-1850s, but with the inauguration of halftone screen printing techniques in the 1890s the photograph no longer had to be redrawn or restructured by an artist to be usable in newspapers or magazines. General interest journals such as Illustrated American, Illustrated London News, Paris Moderne, and Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, as well as other periodicals that were directed toward special issues such as social reform (including Worlds Work and Charities and the Commons), were among the first to recognize that the photograph was both more convincing and more efficient than the artist's sketch.

At first little imagination governed the way that pictures were incorporated into the text of articles, but soon after 1890 periodicals began to pay more attention to page layouts. The pictures were not simply spotted throughout the story; images of different sizes and shapes began to be deliberately arranged, sometimes in overlapping patterns and even occasionally crossing onto the adjacent page. Also, feature stories and articles consisting of just photographs and captions made an appearance. Along with the more arresting layouts, the work of such photographers as Roll and Vert for the French periodical press and of James H. Hare, J. C. Hemment, and Arthur Hewitt for the American weeklies helped inaugurate an interest in picture journalism; this development was a factor in the eventual success of Life, Look, Picture Post, and Paris Match in the 1930s.

The poor quality of newsprint prevented the news dailies from adopting photography as wholeheartedly as the weekly journals did, because newspaper publishers simply preferred a crisply reproduced handmade drawing to an indistinct camera image. However, even when improved paper and platemaking capabilities enabled these publications to shift to halftones soon after 1900, the daily exigencies of deadlines and layouts generally resulted in undistinguished camera images. One exception is the series by Arnold Genthe of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire (pi. no. 586), reproduced in the San Francisco Examiner; however, these pictures, taken by Genthe with a borrowed camera while his own studio and equipment burned, were not the result of an assignment but were made on his own to record the event and express the eerie beauty of the ruins.

Shortly before the new century began, increasing com-petition for readers among weekly periodicals prompted editors to feature stories of national concern, among which wars and insurrections figured prominendy. Reporters and photographers, armed with field- and hand cameras that were somewhat lighter than those used during the Crimean and American Civil wars were dispatched to battlefields around the world to capture, as the Illustrated American put it, "a picturesque chronicling of contemporaneous history." Continuing in the vein explored earlier in the century by Roger Fenton, Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner, and George N. Barnard, Luigi Barzini photographed the Boxer Rebellion and the Russo-Japanese War (and the Peking to Paris Auto Race of 1907) for the Italian journal Corners delta. Sera, selections of these articles were later published in book form. Horace W. Nicholls covered the Boer War for the British press, intending to make "truthful images" that also would "appeal to the artistic sense of the most fastidious." However, verism not art was the primary aim of most news photographers, including Hare and Agustin Victor Casasola, both of whom photographed conflicts in the Americas around 1900. Hare, an English-born camera designer who emigrated to the United States in 1889, was sent in 1898 by Collier's Weekly to Cuba to cover the Spanish-American War. Using a hand camera, he regularly achieved the sense of real-life immediacy seen in Carrying Out the Wounded During the Fighting at San Juan; these and similar scenes by Hare of the later Russo-Japanese War enabled Collier's to increase both circulation and advertising, which in turn prompted other magazines to use photographs more generously. Images of the Mexican revolution by Casasola, probably the first photographer in his country consciously to think of himself as a photojournalist seem surprisingly modern in feeling even though made with a view camera and tripod. Unfortunately, no picture magazines, such as the later Spanish weekly Nosotros, were on hand to take advantage of this photographer's keen eye for dramatic expression and gesture (pi. no. 588); aside from a poorly reproduced selection published as Album Grafico Historico in 1920, they remained unseen by the public.

War images continued to be a staple of photo reportage, but during the first World War civilian photographers found it difficult to covet" the action owing to the strict censorship directed against all civilian cameramen, including the well-regarded Hare who, sent to England and France in 1914 by Collier's, complained that "to so much as make a snapshot without official permission in writing means arrest." Compelling visual embodiments of the tension, trauma, or courage associated with this four-year conflict with its nine million fatalities were not often published because military authorities had little conception of the public's appetite for dynamic images. Nevertheless, the setback was only temporary; new attitudes toward reportorial photography that resulted in part from advances in equipment during the mid-1920s and in part from growing prominence of picture journals affected combat photography as well as all other kinds of images.

A crucial factor in this development was the invention in Germany of small, lightweight equipment—the small-plate Ermanox camera, but especially the 35mm roll-film Leica that appeared on the market in 1925. Descended from the amusing detective playthings of earlier times, in that they could be used unobserved, these cameras helped to change the way the photographic image looked and the manner in which photojournalism (and eventually much self-expressive photography) was practiced. Easy to handle, with a fast lens and rapid film-advancement mechanism, the Leica called forth intuitive rather than considered responses and permitted its users to make split-second decisions about exposure and framing, which often imbued the image with a powerful sense of being a slice-of-life excised from a seamless actuality. Other 35mm cameras that appeared in quick succession, as well as the somewhat larger twin-lens Rolleiflex in 1930, promoted this kind of naturalism in photoreportage. Owing to the ease with which exposures were made, the small size of the negative, and the pressures of publication deadlines, 35mm film often was developed and printed in professional laboratories, with either the photographer or—more likely—the picture editor selecting and cropping images for reproduction. The freedom from processing, along with the possibility of representing movement, of capturing both evanescent expression and the sometimes surreal-looking juxtapositions of unlikely elements in the visual field, soon appealed to photographers interested in personal expression as well as those engaged in photojournalistic reportage. As a consequence, a new ideological stance concerning camerawork emerged during the 1930s and grew stronger in subsequent decades. With the increasing acceptance of blurred and sometimes enigmatic shapes and grainy enlargements either in silver print or in printer's ink, this new concept of the photograph differed substantially from the earlier notion of the camera image as a pre-visualized, uniformly sharp, and finely printed artifact.

ARNOLD GENTHE. The San Francisco Fire, 1906.
Gelatin silver print. Museum of Modern Art, New York; gift of the photographer.

JIMMY HARE. Carrying Out the Wounded During the Vighting at San Juan, 1898.
Gelatin silver print. Humanities Research Center, University of Texas. Austin.

AGUSTIN VICTOR CASASOLA. Mexican Revolution, c. 1912.
Gelatin silver print. Private collection.

Photojournalism in Europe: the 1920s and '30s

With other aspects of photography taking on exceptional luster in Germany during the years of the Weimar Republic, it seems natural that photojournalism also should have flourished there. In addition to the well-established Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung (BIZ), which had introduced halftone reproduction of photographs in the 1890s, a host of new illustrated weeklies appeared after 1918, among them the dynamic Munchner Illustrierte Presse (MIP). The quest for interesting views and layouts reflected the desire on the part of cosmopolitan readers for picture stories about social activities, movies, sports, and life in foreign lands. The photographer was expected to shoot sequences that might be cropped, edited, and arranged to form a narrative in pictures with only a minimum of text, making it almost possible to "forget reading" as some were to counsel. The idea for this kind of picture story actually had surfaced almost 40 years earlier when Nadar staged an interview between himself and the chemist/color theorist Eugene Chevreul, which his son Paul Nadar photographed using a camera with a roll-film attachment. The 27 images, eight of which appeared in Le Journal illustre in 1886, reveal a degree of posturing; this stiffness would later be avoided with faster film, more sensitive lenses, and the easier handling of 35mm equipment.

As magazines began to use sequences of captioned images more extensively, the role of the picture editor became crucial. In Germany, the new vitality in selection, spacing, and arrangement was exemplified by Stefan Lorant, a former Hungarian film editor whose persuasive handling of pictorial material for MIP was guided by a keen awareness that readers wished to be entertained as well as informed. The appetite for dynamic picture images also led to a new role for the picture agency. These enterprises had evolved from companies that during the 1890s had stocked large selections of photographs, including stereographs, to meet the demands of middle-class viewers and burgeoning magazines. Agencies now concerned themselves with generating story ideas, making assignments, and collecting fees in addition to maintaining files of pictures from which editors might choose suitable illustrations. In mediating between publisher and photographer, agencies such as Photodienst, or Dephot as it was known, and Weltrundschau, the two main sources of images for German weeklies after 1928, became almost as important to the course of photojournalism as the photographer. Al-most, but not quite. The individual photographer was still the "backbone of the new journalism," as both amateurs and professionals, willing to wait hours "to catch the right moment," sought provocative and unusual points of view in order to avoid banal or merely descriptive images.

Such reportage using available light emerged in 1928 in the work of Erich Salomon, a German lawyer turned businessman turned photographer who, at age forty-two, began to photograph with the Ermanox (a plate camera of exceptional sensitivity). Well-educated and widely known in political and social circles in Berlin, Salomon, who was in a position to insinuate himself into privileged situations such as political meetings, courtrooms, and diplomatic functions, made his exposures under ordinary lighting conditions; his subjects usually were unaware of the exact instant of exposure even though a shutter speed of about 1/25th of a second and a tripod were required. Artless but full of surprises, these "candid" pictures, as they began to be called, were reproduced in pictorial weeklies in Germany, where their naturalness and psychological intensity contrasted sharply with the usual stiffly posed portraits of politicos and celebrities. Published in book form in 1931 as Beruhmte Zeitgenossen in Unbewachten Augenblicken (Famous Contemporaries in Unguarded Moments), Salomon's works convey a delicious sense of spying on the forbidden world of the rich and powerful.

MARTIN MUNKACSI. BerlinerIllustrierte Zeitung (BIZ), July 21, 1929. Magazine cover. Private collection.


Martin Munkácsi (born Kolozsvar, Austro-Hungary, May 18, 1896, died July 13, 1963 New York, NY) was an Hungarian photographer who worked in Germany (1928-34) and the United States.
Munkácsi was a newspaper writer and photographer in Hungary, specializing in sports. At the time, sports action photography could only be done in bright light outdoors. Munkácsi's innovation was to make sports photographs as meticulously composed action photographs, which required both artistic and technical skill.
Munkácsi's legendary big break was to happen upon a fatal brawl, which he photographed. Those photos affected the outcome of the trial of the accused killer, and gave Munkácsi considerable notoriety. That notoriety helped him get a job in Berlin in 1928, for the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, where his first published photo was a race car splashing its way through a puddle. He also worked for the fashion magazine Die Dame.

More than just sports and fashion, he photographed Berliners, rich and poor, in all their activities. He traveled to Turkey, Sicily, Egypt, London, New York, and famously Liberia, for photo spreads in the Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung.
The speed of the modern age and the excitement of new photographic viewpoints enthralled him, especially flying. There are aerial photographs; there are air-to-air photographs of a flying school for women; there are photographs from a Zeppelin, including the ones on his trip to Brazil, where he crosses over a boat whose passengers wave to the airship above.

On March 21, 1933, he photographed the fateful "Day of Potsdam", where the aged President Paul von Hindenburg handed Germany over to Adolf Hitler. On assignment for the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, he photographed Hitler's inner circle, ironically because he was a Jew and a foreigner.
In 1934, the Nazis nationalized the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, fired its Jewish editor-in-chief, Kurt Korff, and replaced its innovative photography with pictures of German troops.
Munkácsi left for New York, where he signed on, for a substantial $100,000, with Harper's Bazaar, a top fashion magazine. Innovatively, he often left the studio to shoot outdoors, on the beach, on farms and fields, at an airport. He produced one of the first articles ilustrated with nude photographs in a popular magazine.
His portraits include Katharine Hepburn, Leslie Howard, Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford, Jane Russell, Louis Armstrong, and the definitive dance photograph of Fred Astaire.

Munkácsi died in poverty and controversy. Several universities and museums declined to accept his archives, and they were scattered around the world.
Berlin's Ullstein Archives and Hamburg's F. C. Gundlach collection are home to two of the largest collections of Munkácsi's work.
In 1932, the young Henri Cartier-Bresson, at the time an undirected photographer who catalogued his travels and his friends, saw the Munkácsi photograph Three Boys at Lake Tanganyika, taken on a beach in Liberia. Cartier-Bresson later said, "For me this photograph was the spark that ignited my enthusiasm. I suddenly realized that, by capturing the moment, photography was able to achieve eternity. It is the only photograph to have influenced me. This picture has such intensity, such joie de vivre, such a sense of wonder that it continues to fascinate me to this day." He paraphrased this many times during his life, including the quotation, "I suddenly understood that photography can fix eternity in a moment. It is the only photo that influenced me. There is such intensity in this image, such spontaneity, such joie de vivre, such miraculousness, that even today it still bowls me over."

Richard Avedon said of Munkácsi, "He brought a taste for happiness and honesty and a love of women to what was, before him, a joyless, loveless, lying art. Today the world of what is called fashion is peopled with Munkácsi's babies, his heirs.... The art of Munkácsi lay in what he wanted life to be, and he wanted it to be splendid. And it was."


PAUL NADAR. The Art of Living a Hundred Years; Three Interviews with Monsieur Chevreul
on the Eve of his 101st Year. From Le Journal illustre, September 5, 1886.
Bibliorheque Nationale, Paris.

ERICH SALOMON. Presidential Palace in Berlin, Reception in Honor of King Fuad of Egypt, 1930.
Gelatin silver print. Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen Preussischcr Kulturbesitz, Berlin.


Erich Salomon (April 28, 1886 – July 7, 1944) was a German-born news photographer known for his pictures in the diplomatic and legal professions and the innovative methods he used to acquire them.
Born in Berlin, Salomon studied law, engineering, and zoology up to World War I. After the war, he worked in the promotion department of the Ullstein publishing empire designing their billboard ads. He first picked up a camera in 1927, when he was 41, to document some legal disputes and soon after hid an Ermanox camera usable in dim light in his bowler hat. By cutting a hole in the hat for the lens, Salomon snapped a photo of a police killer on trial in a Berlin criminal court.

With his multilingual ability and clever concealment, Salomon's reputation soared among the peoples of Europe. When the Kellogg-Briand Pact was signed in 1928, Salomon walked into the signing room and took the vacant seat of the Polish delegate as well as several photos. In time, diplomats were convinced that photojournalism was part of the historical record, and the photo opportunity was born.

After Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany, Salomon fled to the Netherlands with his wife and continued his photographic career at the Hague. Salomon refused an invitation by Life Magazine to come to the United States, and he and his family were trapped in the Low Countries after Hitler invaded in 1940. Salomon and his family were betrayed to the Nazis and died in Auschwitz in July 1944.

In looking back at this period, Tim Gidal, himself a participant, singled out, besides Salomon, Walter Bosshard, Alfred Eisenstacdt, Andre Kertesz, Martin Munkacsi, Felix H. Man (Hans Baumann), Willi Ruge, and Umbo (Otto Umbehrs) as among those who had imposed a distinctive style on their materials. For instance, Munkacsi, initially a painter and sportswriter in Hungary, was exceptionally sensitive to the expressive possibilities of design in split-second reportage, as is apparent in the silhouetted forms of Liberian Youths, made on assignment in Africa in 1931. Eisenstaedt, a photojournalist with the Associated Press in Germany until 1935, was more engrossed by gesture and suggestive detail  than by pictorial design, while Kertesz celebrated the poetic quality of ordinary life in pictures made for German and French periodicals. The career of Umbo exemplifies the rich and varied background of many of the photojournalists in the early years in that he was trained at the Bauhaus in painting and design and worked in film in Berlin and with the still photographer and montagist Paul Citroen. These experiences, coupled with his feeling for the brittle and offhand quality of contemporary life in Berlin, helped pro-duce photographs that are a kind of visual equivalent of "street slang".

The journal Arbeiter Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ), published between 1925 and 1932 in Germany and later in Czechoslovakia, was exceptional because, in addition to photoreportage, its cover pages featured montages by John Hcartfield (see Chapter 9), who combined Dadaist sensibility with left-wing ideology. Inspired by the example of Russian Constructivist artists who used photographic collage and montage for utilitarian ends, Heartfield (along with George Grosz) changed this form from one aimed at shocking elitist viewers out of their complacency into a tool for clarifying social and political issues for a working-class audience. In the designs for book and magazine covers, for posters and illustrations for the Communist press and the publishing company in which he and his brother were involved, Heartfield transformed object into symbol, constructing meaning from materials clipped from newspapers, magazines, and photographic prints made especially for his purposes.

MARTIN MUNKACSI. Liberian Youths. 1931.
Gelatin silver print. International Center of Photography, New York, and Joan Munkacsi, Woodstock, N.Y.

ALFRED EISENSTAEDT. Feet of Ethiopian Soldier, 1935.
Gelatin silver print. Life Magazine.


Alfred Eisenstaedt (December 6, 1898 – August 24, 1995) was a German American photographer and photojournalist. He is renowned for his candid photographs, frequently made using a 35mm Leica M3 rangefinder camera. He is best remembered for his photograph capturing the celebration of V-J Day.Eisenstaedt was born into a Jewish family in Dirschau (Tczew) in West Prussia, Imperial Germany. His family moved to Berlin in 1906. Eisenstaedt served in the German Army's artillery during World War I, being wounded on April 9, 1918. While working as a belt and button salesmen in 1920s Weimar Germany, Eisenstaedt began taking photographs as a freelancer for the Berliner Tageblatt.Eisenstaedt was successful enough to become a full-time photographer in 1929. Four years later he photographed a meeting between Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini in Italy. Other notable pictures taken by Eisenstaedt in his early career include a waiter ice skating in St. Moritz in 1932 and Joseph Goebbels at the League of Nations in Geneva in 1933. Although initially friendly, Goebbels scowled for the photograph when he learned that Eisenstaedt was Jewish.

Because of oppression in Hitler's Nazi Germany, Eisenstaedt emigrated to the United States in 1935, where he lived in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York, for the rest of his life. He worked as a photographer for Life magazine from 1936 to 1972. His photos of news events and celebrities, such as Sophia Loren and Ernest Hemingway, appeared on more than 86 Life covers.Eisenstaedt, known as "Eisie" to his close friends, enjoyed his annual August vacations on the island of Martha's Vineyard for 50 years. When on assignment in the Galapagos Islands,[vague] Eisenstaedt left the Galapagos prior to the assignment's completion so he could arrive on time for his Vineyard vacation in the Menemsha area of the town of Chilmark.[citation needed] During his Vineyard summers, he would conduct photographic "experiments," by working with various lenses, filters, and prisms, but always working with natural light. Eisenstaedt was fond of Martha's Vineyard's photogenic lighthouses, and was the focus of lighthouse fund raisers for the Vineyard Environmental Research Institute (VERI), the lease-holder of the lighthouses. One fund raiser was titled "Eisenstaedt Day" and was an international event. The last Eisenstaedt lighthouse fundraiser was held in August 1995, the month of his death on Martha's Vineyard.

Eisenstaedt's last photographs were of President Bill Clinton with wife, Hillary, and daughter, Chelsea, on August 1993, at the Granary Gallery in West Tisbury on Martha's Vineyard. This historic "private" photo-session took place in a fenced-in courtyard protected by the Secret Service for over one hour, and was fully documented by William E. Marks. Marks, who took hundreds of photographs of Eisenstaedt in every situation imaginable for over ten years,[citation needed] also photographed Eisenstaedt signing his famous V-J Day photograph on the morning of his passing.
Eisenstaedt died in his bed at midnight in his beloved Menemsha Inn cottage known as the "Pilot House".
His death was attended by his sister-in-law, Lucille (Lulu) Kaye, and his close friend, publisher/author William E. Marks.


JOHN HEARTFIELD. Hitler's Dove of Peace,
cover from Arbeiter Illustrierte Zeitung (AJZ), January 31, 1935.
International Museum of Photography, Rochester, N.Y.


Photography in the Soviet Union has been responsive to the ideological changes that have governed the role of all the visual arts, but the emphasis always has been on the camera image as a utilitarian rather than a private personal statement. From the early period around 1917, when portraits and views of Revolutionary leaders and activities bv Pyotr Otsup and Jakob Steinberg convinced Soviet authorities of the medium's potential in mass communication, to the present, the camera has been conceived as a tool for projecting the constructive aspects of national life in books, magazines, and posters. This socially oriented concept gave the formal Constructivist ideas of Alexander Rodchenko their specific tension and made them acceptable because the techniques he used—montage, the close-up, and the raking view from an unusual angle—were regarded as a means of creating a fresh vision of a society building itself.

The adaptability of montage in particular led Soviet artists to consider it "a direct and successful way of achieving the mammoth task of re-educating, informing, and persuading people." Rodchenko's handling of this technique in designs for book jackets, illustrations—including a series for Vladimir Mayakovsky's poem Pro Eto ("About This")—and especially for the magazine of the arts LEF (Left Front of the Arts and Novyi LEF (NewLeft) with which he was associated during the mid-1920S, invigorated Soviet graphic art. A compatriot, the painter El Lissitzky, also contributed photographic montages for book covers and posters that were intended to construct a fresh vision of reality through rearranging reproductions of that very reality. Rodchenko's straight photography also had a significant influence on the photojournalism of the 1920s. For example, the marked tonal contrast and the diagonal forms in an image of a construction site (pi. no. 542) by Boris Ignatovich (who with his sister were pupils of Rodchenko) recreate visually the dynamism of the activity itself, while symbolizing its larger meaning for society.

An opposing trend in Russian photojournalism that also was visible at the time, which during the mid-1930s became predominant, favored less formalistic visual means and a more humanistic approach. This attitude is embodied in the work of Arkady Shaikhet, Max Alpert, and Georgy Zelma, to cite but three of the well-regarded photojournalists of the period. Alpert, a photoreporter first for Pravda and then for the influential journal The U.S.S.R. in Construction (published in four languages), concentrated on stories about major construction projects in the provinces, seeking through the close-up and long shot to project the vastness and communal activity required by such enterprises as the building of the Fergana Grand Canal in Uzbekistan. Dmitri Baltermants and Yevgeny Khaldey were Russia's best-known war photographers. In four years of combat during World War II, Khaldey produced almost 1,500 images , as well as innumerable other views of Russian life before and after that time, including important documentation of the Nuremberg trials.

ALEXANDER RODCHENKO. Novyi LEF, August 1928. Magazine cover. Ex Libris, New York.

UMBO (OTTO UMBEHRS). Berlin Artists' Rehearsal Room, 1930.
Gelatin silver print. Light Gallery, New York.

MAX ALPERT. Construction Site of the Fergana Grand Canal, 1939.
Gelatin silver print. Sovfoto Magazine and VAAP, Moscow


(Russian, 1899-1980)

Max Alpert moved to Moscow after three years in the Red Army and began a career working for state publications. In 1929, he photographed the construction of a steelworks plant in Magnitogaisk, resulting in "Giant and Builder," his series on the life of steelworker Viktor Kolmykow. Alpert helped produce "Twenty-Four Hours in the Life of the Filippov Family," a photography exhibition that toured Vienna, Prague, and Berlin in 1931. From 1941 to 1945, Alpert was a war correspondent and photographer at the Russian Front for the TASS news agency. His works show an intuitive eye for design and human events beyond their propagandistic purpose.

MAX ALPERT. Battalion commander Alexei Yeremenko who died in battle in 1942

YEVGENY KHALDEY. Raising of the Hammer and Sickle over the Reichstag, May 2, I945.
Gelatin silver print. Howard Schickler Fine Art, New York.

Combinations of words and images became a significant force in the graphic arts of other Eastern European nations. In Poland, Kemal Pasha, by foremost montagist Mieczyslaw Szezuka, who referred to the form as "visual poetry," and City, Mill of Life, by the avant-garde painter Kazimierz Podsadecki, are two examples of book covers produced under the active influence of Constructivism. Karel Teige was the most prominent of a number of Czech photographers whose montages appeared on publicity and book jackets (pi. no. 493). In these countries, montage, collage, and other modernist techniques continued to prove their vitality up to and beyond the second World War.

Soon after the start of the new small-camera journalism in Germany, Vu was introduced in Paris in 1928 by Lueien Vogel, a socially concerned individual who regarded the magazine as "at once a form of expression and a means of action." More stylish and more politically committed than BIZ, it departed from German magazine practice by including works by non-photojournalists, reproduced at times solely to introduce a decorative, poetic, or humorous element. In this regard, Vu and other French picture magazines of this era reflected the fairly long tradition of piquant photojournalistic images that had been appearing in such weekly journals as L'lllnstration and Paris moderne since the 1890s. Frequently, the reportage commissioned by Vu (as well as by others) was neither illustration nor strictly reportorial photojournalism but, as in the case of Kertesz, pictures whose visual content and formal elegance might be savored without captions or written text. Under the artistic direction of Alexander Liberman (later with Vogue), Vu also was distinguished by the inventive use of montage on its covers and in many of its feature articles.

Political events in Germany during the 1930s inadvertently aided the spread of the new journalism and popularized the 35mm camera as an expressive instrument. As illustrated magazines were converted into propaganda arms of the Nazi regime, many of the editors and photographers who had conceived of the idiom fled Germany, carrying their equipment, experiences, and outlook beyond France to England, and—when the second World War engulfed Europe—-to the United States. To cite only a few examples of this rich influx of talent, Lorant's stimulating editing enlivened the pages of Weekly Illustrated and Picture Post in London during the 1930s before he came to the United States where he turned his talent with words and images to book format. After 1933, Munkacsi, working as a fashion photographer for Harper's Bazaar, projected a new image of informality in that field, while Eisenstaedt became one of the mainstays of Life magazine, which featured over a thousand of his feature stories during the next 40 years. Salomon was one of the few well-known photojournalists to have been trapped by the Nazis; in the midst of an illustrious career in the Netherlands he was arrested for being Jewish and sent to his death in Auschwitz in 1944.

Picture journalism in England during the early 1930s reflected a variety of influences as photographers drew upon the styles associated with Russian Constructivism and the New Objectivity and on their own picturesque and genre traditions in photography. As was true generally of the picture weeklies everywhere, the competition with cinema newsreels for public attention prompted British journals such as The Listener and Weekly Illustrated to give greater consideration to lively formats and compelling images that might suggest the complexity of contemporary events. This direction continued and was reinforced with the publication in 1938 of Picture Post, a journal that transformed the German photojoumalistic experience into an acceptably British product through the efforts of its editor Lorant and the German exile photographers Kurt Hutton (Hubschmann) and Man. Britishers Humphrey Spender and Bill Brandt gave their photojournalistic images a socially oriented direction, while Bert Hardy, who began his career on Picture Post in the early 1940s and eventually became known as an "all-round cameraman," established what has been called a "populist idea of Britain."

MIECZYSLAW SZCZUKA. Kemal Pasha: Rental's Constructive Program, c. 1928.
Photocollage. Museum of Fine Art, Lodz, Poland; International Center of Photography, New York.

KAZIMIERZ PODSADECKI. City, Mill of Life, 1929.
Photomontage. Museum of Fine Art. Lodz, Poland;
International Center of Photography, New York.

Documentary photography

Working mainly in the opening years of the 20th century, French photographer Eugène Atget documented shop fronts, architectural details and statuary, trees and greenery, and individuals who made their living as street vendors, producing some 10,000 photographs of Paris and its environs. Unlike many of the architectural photographers before him, Atget showed a remarkable attention to composition, the materiality of substances, the quality of light, and especially the photographer’s feelings about the subject matter. His work was bought mainly by architects, painters, and archivists. The visually expressive force of Atget’s work, produced with a large-format camera, is a testament to the capacity of documentation to surpass mere record making to become inspiring experience.

In like manner, although not as extensively, Czech photographer Josef Sudek created an artistic document of his immediate surroundings. He was particularly fascinated with his home and garden, often shooting the latter through a window.

Lewis W. Hine created a similarly thorough document of a subject, in his case immigrant and working-class life in the United States. One of the first to refer to himself as a social photographer, Hine began his documentation of immigrants at Ellis Island while still a teacher at the Ethical Culture School in New York. Eventually he gave up teaching to work for the National Child Labor Committee, an organization of progressives seeking to make the American industrial economy more aware of its effects on individual workers. From 1908 to 1916 Hine concentrated on photographing child workers, producing thousands of individual portraits and group scenes of underage children employed in textile mills, mines, canning establishments, and glass factories and in street trades throughout the United States. His work was effective in prompting first state regulation and eventually federal regulation of child labour.

Documentary photography experienced a resurgence in the United States during the Great Depression, when the federal government undertook a major documentary project. Produced by the Farm Security Administration (FSA) under the direction of Roy E. Stryker, who earlier had come in contact with Hine’s work, the project comprised more than 270,000 images produced by 11 photographers working for varying lengths and at different times in different places. All worked to show the effects of agricultural displacement caused by the economic downturn, lack of rain, and wasteful agricultural practices in the American South and midlands. In this project, documentation did double duty. One task was to record conditions both on nonfunctioning farms and in new homesteads created by federal legislation. Another was to arouse compassion so that problems addressed by legislative action would win support. A portrait of a migratory pea picker’s wife, made by California portraitist turned documentarian Dorothea Lange, became an icon of the anxiety generated by the Great Depression.

Walker Evans was another photographer whose work for the FSA transformed social documentation from mere record making into transcendent visual expression. On leave from the FSA, Evans worked with James Agee on Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941; reissued 1966), a compelling look at the lives of a family of Southern sharecroppers. Although unaffiliated with the FSA, Margaret Bourke-White, formerly one of the era’s foremost industrial photographers, also worked in the South. With her husband, writer Erskine Caldwell, she produced You Have Seen Their Faces (1937), one of the first photographic picture books to appear in softcover.

Documentary projects underwritten by other federal agencies also existed. One of more significant projects was executed by Berenice Abbott. Inspired in part by Atget’s studies of Paris, she endeavoured to photograph the many parts of New York City and to create “an intuition of past, present, and future.” She was able to interest the Works Projects Administration (WPA) in underwriting an exhibit and publication along these lines entitled Changing New York (1939). Other urban documentary projects were undertaken under the aegis of the Photo League, an association of photographers of varying background and class who set out to document working-class neighbourhoods in New York.

The German portraitist August Sander, intent on creating a sociological document of his own, generated a portrait of Germany during this period. His focus was on the individuals composing German society, documenting a class structure with workers and farmers on the bottom. Sander’s inclusion of types not considered Aryan by German authorities brought him into conflict with the Nazi regime, which destroyed the plates for a proposed book entitled Antlitz der Zeit (“Face of Our Time”).

Among the many other amateur and professional photographers who interested themselves in the documentation of everyday life were Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky, who portrayed everyday life in Russia; Manuel Álvarez Bravo, who created images that offer a psychologically nuanced glimpse of Mexican life; and Robert Doisneau and Brassaï, both of whom captured vibrant images of everyday life in Paris. Perhaps the most extensive ethnographic documentation was that of Edward S. Curtis, who produced 20 volumes of studies of Native American tribespeople over the course of some 20 years. The enormous interest in how people outside Western culture appeared and behaved was a factor in the increasing popularity of National Geographic during this period.

Eugène Atget
Eugène Atget, in full Jean-Eugène-Auguste Atget (born February 12, 1857, Libourne, near Bordeaux, France—died August 4, 1927, Paris), French commercial photographer who specialized in photographing the architecture and associated arts of Paris and its environs at the turn of the 20th century.

Early life and work
Very few biographical facts are known about Atget. The Atget family (originally Atger) were saddlers and carriage-makers who had moved from Provence to the Dordogne River region after the Napoleonic Wars. When Atget was five his father died; his mother died soon afterward. In his early youth Atget apparently spent some years at sea, and by the time he was 21 he was living in Paris. In 1879 he was admitted to the National Conservatory of Music and Drama to study acting, but he was dismissed within two years. He went on to act for several years in itinerant troops that barnstormed the lower levels of the theatrical audience in the provinces.

By the late 1880s, when Atget was in his early 30s, he had become interested in photography. The earliest known photographs by him seem to have been made in the north of France. These works depict rural scenes, plants, and farming technology (e.g., plows, horses in harnesses, and windmills), and they were presumably made as studies for painters and illustrators. By the early 1890s, Atget was working in Paris, but it was not until late in that decade that he changed the focus of his photographic business to concentrate on the city of Paris—a subject that proved of inexhaustible interest, and one that continued to nourish his mind and enrich his work for the remaining 30 years of his life.

On his business card from this period Atget described himself as the “Creator and Purveyor of a Collection of Photograph Views of Old Paris”; on other occasions he identified himself as “auteur éditeur.” He tried to avoid working on commission—as a photographer for hire—and even more rarely was he willing to sell his negatives. Rather, in the first decade of the 20th century, it would seem that it was his ambition to build a great visual catalog of the fruits of French culture—its houses, streets, shops, and architectural details—from which he would sell prints to various buyers according to their needs. His principal customers were the architects and artisans who wanted examples of old architectural models; the libraries and archives that wished to preserve a record of “Old Paris”; and the amateurs of the ancient city who deplored the modernization projects of Napoleon III and his agent, Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann, who had razed and rebuilt much of Paris during the last half of the 19th century. Atget also sold his pictures to illustrators and independent painters, but these sales represented only a minor part of his income.

Perhaps the varying needs of Atget’s clients helped him avoid the formulaic solutions that often result from specialization. For whatever reason, Atget’s photographs of what would seem the most dryly routine of subjects—doors, door knockers, stairways, balustrades—are seen with such economy and intelligence, and with such a bold grasp of the possibilities of photographic description, that the pictures give pleasure both to the viewer’s mind and eyes. Among the qualities that characterize Atget’s work are the rapid foreshortening produced by wide-angle lenses; frequent truncating of the nominal subject in exchange for a more intimate vantage point; and a willingness to work in a wide variety of lighting conditions, even (especially during the last five years of his life) shooting almost directly into the sun, a practice that was religiously avoided by conventional photographers.

For reasons that are not clear, Atget did almost no work during World War I; in fact his output had declined each year after 1910, before coming almost to a halt during the war, and it did not resume strongly until 1920. In that year Atget wrote to Paul Léon, minister of fine arts, to offer for sale a portion of his negative collection. The letter begins, “Sir, for more than twenty years I have been working alone and of my own initiative in all the old streets of Old Paris to make a collection of 18 × 24 [centimetre] photographic negatives: artistic documents of beautiful urban architecture from the 16th to the 19th centuries.…Today this enormous artistic and documentary collection is finished; I can say that I possess all of Old Paris.” Soon, the government purchased, for the sum of 10,000 francs, over 2,600 of Atget’s plates to deposit in the national historic registry.

The sale of his negatives may have represented for Atget the end of one chapter of his life and the beginning of a new one. In 1920 he returned to work with renewed vigour and a new, expanded, sense of his subject. In his final years he produced a remarkably high percentage of his most beautiful and most original work, including the best of his photographs of shop windows, street fairs, and the Parc de Saint-Cloud, as well as the most touching of his records of the still-rural towns of the Paris environs. In the spring of 1925, in what was perhaps the most remarkable sustained creative effort of his life, he made 66 plates (numbered 10 through 75) of the unkempt Parc de Sceaux—originally the domain of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the greatest of the ministers of Louis XIV. The Chateau de Sceaux had been destroyed during the last years of the French Revolution, but the derelict park remained. Atget’s pictures of it have less to do with its specific broken sculptures and tangled plantings than they do with age, loss, and the cryptic consolations of art.

In the summer of 1926 the former actress Valentine Compagnon, Atget’s companion of 30 years, died. Atget’s friend and executor André Calmettes said that Atget was inconsolable, but he continued to work for another year.

During Atget’s lifetime his work was relatively unknown. His oeuvre did not relate to either of the then current conceptions of artistic photography: it did not reflect the older Pictorialist schools of art photography, which still felt that their work should embody known artistic virtues, generally those of turn-of-the-century Symbolist painting, nor did it express the Modernist view that new photography should participate in the programs of postwar experimental art, either Constructivist or Surrealist. A few of his pictures were reproduced in 1926 in the Surrealist journal La Révolution Surréaliste—not as works of art, however, but rather as demonstrations of the intrinsically surreal nature of life itself. In the end, the success of Atget’s work seems to suggest that the art of photography has less to do with following conventional pictorial strategies than with intuitively knowing the right place to stand.

In 1925 the American photographer Berenice Abbott saw a few of Atget’s prints that had been collected by the artist Man Ray, for whom she then worked. She subsequently visited Atget several times before his death in 1927. In 1928 Abbott bought Atget’s residual collection of more than 1,000 glass plates and perhaps as many as 10,000 prints. (The remnants of his estate are now housed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.) The next year Abbott wrote the first of her many essays on Atget’s work, in which she said, “In looking at the work of Eugène Atget, a new world is opened up in the world of creative expression.” By the end of 1931, this admiration had been echoed by two other outstanding young photographers of the time—Ansel Adams and Walker Evans. Indeed, a new generation of photographers—Evans in particular—developed, with the help of Atget’s example, a new idea of creative photography, based on the poetic potential of plain facts, clearly seen.

John Szarkowski


EUGENE ATGET. Avenue des Gobelins, 1925.
Gold-toned printing-out paper. Museum of Modern Art, New York; Abbott-Levy Collection; partial gift of Shirley C. Burden.

Eugene Atget, the photographer whose extraordinary documentation of Paris in the first quarter of the 20th century was for many years uncelebrated, was born in Libourne, near Bordeaux, in 1857. Orphaned at an early age, he was employed as cabin boy and seaman after completing his schooling. During the 1880s, Atget took up acting, playing in provincial theaters, but having settled permanently in Paris in 1890 he realized the impossibility of a stage career in the capita!. Instead, he turned to the visual arts, deciding on photography because of his limited art training and also because he expected that it was a profession that might yield income from the sale of camera images to his artist-neighbors in Montparnasse.

Between 1898 and 1914, Atget received commissions from and sold photographs to various city bureaus, including the archive of the national registry, Les Monuments historiques, and the recently established Musee Carnavalet, which had been set up to preserve a record of the history of Paris. He also supplied documents to a clientele of architects, decorators, and publishers as well as artists, keeping records of both subjects and patrons. One project, for a book on brothels planned but never realized by Andre Dignimont in 1921, is said to have annoyed the photographer, but the images for this work have the same sense of immutable presence as those of other working people photographed by Atget in the streets or shops of Paris. Often self-motivated rather than directly commissioned, Atget nevertheless followed in the tradition marked out by the photographers of the 1850s Monuments historiqites project and by Charles Marville, who had photographed the neighborhoods about to be replaced by Baron Haussmann's urban renewal projects. In common with these photographers, Atget did not find documentation and art antithetical but attempted to invest even the most mundane subject with photographic form. He showed no interest in the art photography movement that already was well established when he began to work in the medium, seeking instead to make the expressive power of light and shadow as defined by the silver salts evoke resonances beyond the merely descriptive.

Beyond supplying images to clients, Atget seems to have had an overall design or intention for many of his projects. A voracious reader of 19th-century French literature, he sought to re-create the Paris of the past, photographing buildings and areas marked for demolition in the hope of preserving the ineffable imprint of time and usage on stone, iron, and vegetation. A series of tree and park images that Atget made in the oudying sections around Paris suggest a compulsion to preserve natural environments from the destruction already visible in the industrialized northern districts of the city. In the same way, his images of working individuals may have beer made to record distinctive trades before they were swept away by the changes in social and economic relationships already taking place.

In the manner of a film director, Atget made close-ups, long shots, details, views from different angles, in different lights, at different times, almost as though he were challenging time by creating an immutable world in two dimensions. The vast number of his images—perhaps 10,000—of storefronts, doorways, arcades, vistas, public spaces, and private gardens, of crowds in the street and workers pursuing daily activities—of just about everything but upper-class life-—evoke a Paris that appears as part legend, part dream, yet profoundly real.

During the 1920s, the extent and expressive qualities of Atget's work were unknown to all but a small group of friends and avant-garde artists, among them Man Ray, who arranged for several works to be reproduced in the magazine La Revolution Surrealiste in 1926. Atget's final year, made especially difficult by the death of a longtime companion as well as by his insecure financial situation, brought him into contact with Berenice Abbott, who at the time was Man Ray's technical assistant. After Atget's death in August 1927, Abbott was able to raise funds to purchase the photographer's negatives and prints and thus bring his work to the attention of American photographers and collectors when she returned to the United States in 1929. In 1968 this vast but still uncataloged collection was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which has since displayed and published Atget's exceptional images.

EUGENE ATGET. Prostitute, Paris, 1920s.
Gold-toned printing-out paper. Private Collection.

EUGENE ATGET. La Marne a la Varenne, 1925-27.
Gold-toned printing-out paper. Museum of Modern Art, New York;
Abbott-Levy Collection; partial gift of Shirley C. Burden.

EUGENE ATGET. Notre Dame, 1925

EUGENE ATGET. Parc de Sceaux, 1925


Lewis W. Hine
Lewis W. Hine, in full Lewis Wickes Hine (born Sept. 26, 1874, Oshkosh, Wis., U.S.—died Nov. 3, 1940, Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.), American photographer who used his art to bring social ills to public attention.

Hine was trained as a sociologist. He began to portray the immigrants who crowded onto New York’s Ellis Island in 1905, and he also photographed the tenements and sweatshops where the immigrants were forced to live and work. These pictures were published in 1908 in Charities and the Commons (later Survey).

In 1909 Hine published Child Labor in the Carolinas and Day Laborers Before Their Time, the first of his many photo stories documenting child labour. These photo stories included such pictures as Breaker Boys Inside the Coal Breaker and Little Spinner in Carolina Cotton Mill, which showed children as young as eight years old working long hours in dangerous conditions. Two years later Hine was hired by the National Child Labor Committee to explore child-labour conditions in the United States more extensively. Hine traveled throughout the eastern half of the United States, gathering appalling pictures of exploited children and the slums in which they lived. He kept a careful record of his conversations with the children by secretly taking notes inside his coat pocket and photographing birth entries in family Bibles. He measured the children’s heights by the buttons on his vest.

Late in World War I, Hine served as a photographer with the Red Cross. After the Armistice he remained with the Red Cross in the Balkans, and in 1919 he published the photo story The Children’s Burden in the Balkans.

Hine, Lewis: The Sky-boy [Credit: International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House]After his return to New York City, Hine was hired to record the construction of the Empire State Building, then the tallest building in the world. To get the proper angle for certain pictures of the skyscraper, Hine had himself swung out over the city streets in a basket or bucket suspended from a crane or similar device. In 1932 these photographs were published as Men at Work. Thereafter he documented a number of government projects.

Brooklyn Museum - Climbing into the Promised Land Ellis Island - Lewis Wickes Hine

Dorothea Lange
Dorothea Lange, (born May 26, 1895, Hoboken, New Jersey, U.S.—died October 11, 1965, San Francisco, California), American documentary photographer whose portraits of displaced farmers during the Great Depression greatly influenced later documentary and journalistic photography.

Lange studied photography at Columbia University in New York City under Clarence H. White, a member of the Photo-Secession group. In 1918 she decided to travel around the world, earning money as she went by selling her photographs. Her money ran out by the time she got to San Francisco, so she settled there and obtained a job in a photography studio.

During the Great Depression, Lange began to photograph the unemployed men who wandered the streets of San Francisco. Pictures such as White Angel Breadline (1932), showing the desperate condition of these men, were publicly exhibited and received immediate recognition both from the public and from other photographers, especially members of of Group f.64. These photographs also led to a commission in 1935 from the federal Resettlement Administration (later called the Farm Security Administration [FSA]). The latter agency, established by the U.S. Agriculture Department, hoped that Lange’s powerful images would bring the conditions of the rural poor to the public’s attention. Her photographs of migrant workers, with whom she lived for some time, were often presented with captions featuring the words of the workers themselves. FSA director Roy Styker considered her most famous portrait, Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California (1936), to be the iconic representation of the agency’s agenda. The work now hangs in the Library of Congress.

Lange’s first exhibition was held in 1934, and thereafter her reputation as a skilled documentary photographer was firmly established. In 1939 she published a collection of her photographs in the book An American Exodus: A Record of Human Erosion. Two years later she received a Guggenheim fellowship, and in 1942 she recorded the mass evacuation of Japanese Americans to detention camps after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. That work was celebrated in 2006 with the publication of Impounded: Dorothea Lange and the Censored Images of Japanese American Internment, edited by historians Linda Gordon and Gary Y. Okihiro. After World War II, Lange created a number of photo-essays, including Mormon Villages and The Irish Countryman, for Life magazine.

In 1953–54 Lange worked with Edward Steichen on “The Family of Man,” an exhibition organized by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York in 1955. Steichen included several of her photographs in the show. Over the next 10 years she traveled the world, photographically documenting countries throughout Asia, notably South Asia, the Middle East, and South America. Finally, in the year leading up to her death in 1965, Lange spent much of her time working on a retrospective exhibition of her work to be held at MoMA the following year. She died shortly before it opened.

Dorothea Lange. Salute of Innocence

Walker Evans
Walker Evans, (born November 3, 1903, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.—died April 10, 1975, New Haven, Connecticut), American photographer whose influence on the evolution of ambitious photography during the second half of the 20th century was perhaps greater than that of any other figure. He rejected the prevailing highly aestheticized view of artistic photography, of which Alfred Stieglitz was the most visible proponent, and constructed instead an artistic strategy based on the poetic resonance of common but exemplary facts, clearly described. His most characteristic pictures show quotidian American life during the second quarter of the century, especially through the description of its vernacular architecture, its outdoor advertising, the beginnings of its automobile culture, and its domestic interiors.

Early life and work
Evans spent much of his childhood in the Chicago suburb of Kenilworth, before moving several times and attending a series of secondary schools that culminated at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. His academic record was spotty at best, and it did not improve at Williams College, in Williamstown, Massachusetts, which he left after only one year.

After leaving college, Evans spent three years in New York City working at dead-end jobs. In 1926 his father, an advertising executive, offered to finance the continuation of his education in Paris, and so Evans spent a year in France, where he audited classes at the Sorbonne and tried to write (with very limited success). On his return to New York in the spring of 1927, Evans lived the life of a writer in Greenwich Village—albeit a writer with writer’s block and no significant publication record. Although he had made some casual snapshots in France, his serious interest in photography seems to have developed, at first tentatively, during this period.

In 1928 and 1929 Evans made a substantial number of photographs that unmistakably indicate artistic ambition. Most of these depict semiabstract patterns derived from skyscrapers or other machine-age products. However, in the fall of 1929 he became interested in the work of the French photographer Eugène Atget, who eschewed deliberately artistic effects in his simple, economic photographs of Paris and its environs at the turn of the 20th century. The photographer Berenice Abbott, the most dedicated supporter of Atget’s work, had acquired his residual estate of prints and plates and brought the collection to New York. Evans’s friend James Stern remembered—almost half a century later—that he and Evans had gone to Abbott’s apartment to see Atget’s work, perhaps for the first time in America. Stern said that in Evans he had caught the glimpse of an obsession, causing him to ask, “Surely it is not invidious to ask what kind of Evans we would have, which way his art would have developed, had there never been an Atget?”

Near the end of his life, Evans would say that seeing Atget confirmed a new direction that was in fact already taking place in his work, and there is no reason to challenge this formulation. Nevertheless, it would seem that during the early 1930s Evans virtually worked his way through the Atget catalog, applying its lessons to the very different raw material offered by his own country. Evans’s unswerving commitment to a direct and unsentimental style, free of dramatic vantage points and romantic glints and shadows, was a commitment to an art that concealed its art. On the level of style, his work might have been mistaken for that of a skilled if literal-minded commercial photographer. Evans’s idea of artistic style was expressed by Gustave Flaubert’s maxim that an artist should be “like God in Creation…he should be everywhere felt, but nowhere seen.”

The Farm Security Administration
During the early 1930s Evans had worked only occasionally (and skeptically) as a professional photographer, preferring to live precariously from occasional assignments, often from friends. The idea that he should be asked to make a photograph conceived by someone else was offensive to his ego; in addition, there were many sorts of photographs that he had never learned to make. However, from mid-1935 to early 1937 Evans worked for a regular salary as a member of the so-called “historical unit” of the Farm Security Administration (FSA; earlier, the Resettlement Administration), an agency of the Department of Agriculture. Its assignment was to provide a photographic survey of rural America, primarily in the South. To the degree that the function of the unit was ever defined, its goal was less history than a form of political persuasion. In any case it afforded Evans the means of traveling, generally alone and without immediate financial concerns, in search of the material for his art.

In a working life of almost half a century, one might guess that half of Evans’s best work was done during that year and a half, when he constructed with photographs an analogue of rural life in America. What made Evans’s work new was the kind of facts that he selected for scrutiny, and the subtlety of his appreciation of those facts and their resonant allusions. Most of Evans’s best work dealt not with people but with the things they made: he was concerned most of all with the character of American culture as it was expressed in its vernacular architecture and in its unofficial decorative arts, such as billboards and shop windows. His subjects were on the surface resolutely prosaic and artless, yet it can be argued that what he demanded of them was quality—he demanded that they be exemplary of the brave, groping, sometimes comic effort to create a built culture that would be consonant with an unprecedented nation.

In 1938 the Museum of Modern Art in New York City published American Photographs to accompany a retrospective exhibition of Evans’s work to that time. The book’s 87 pictures were made between 1929 and 1936 and selected by Evans. It is remarkable that more than a third of the pictures were made during the brief but astonishingly productive 18 months when Evans was employed by the FSA. American Photographs, with a critical essay by Lincoln Kirstein, remains perhaps the most influential photography book of the modern era.

During the late summer of 1936 Evans was on leave from the FSA to work for Fortune magazine with writer James Agee on a study of three sharecropping families from Hale county, Alabama. The project never appeared in Fortune, but it was finally published in 1941 as the book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, surely one of the oddest and most challenging books that have attempted to make sense of the combination of words and photographs. The solution of Evans and Agee—good friends and mutual admirers of each other’s work—was to not collaborate at all, except in an additive sense. Agee wrote his text, full of High Church extravagance, which was prefaced by a portfolio of 31 unlabeled photographs—bound together at the front of the book—by Evans. These photographs are as reticent and Puritan in style as could be imagined, capturing every aspect of the three families—their houses, their rooms, their furniture, their land. In 1960, after Agee’s death, Evans prepared a new edition with twice as many photographs, a change that did not essentially alter the nature of the book.

In contrast to the aggressive intrusiveness that even in the 1930s characterized much photographic reportage, Evans’s pictures from this project exhibit an almost courtly reticence to intrude into the most private aspects of his subjects’ lives. And yet, in spite of the absence of vulgar prying, the viewer thinks he knows the so-called Ricketts, Woods, and Gudgers better than any star in the tabloids, perhaps partly because they seem collaborators in the design of their portraits. Perhaps Evans understood that the meagre thinness of the sharecroppers’ lives was rendered most clearly when they had dressed themselves up in their Sunday best.

Later life and work
In 1943 Evans was hired by Time, Inc., and he spent the next 22 years with that publishing empire, most of them with the business magazine Fortune, with whom he developed a relationship as a photographer and writer that involved a comfortable salary, substantial independence, and little heavy lifting. He continued to photograph architecture, especially rural churches, and he also began a series of revealing, spontaneous photographs of people taken in the New York City subways; the series was eventually published in book form as Many Are Called in 1966. In 1965 he began teaching in the School of Art and Architecture of Yale University, and in the following year he retired from Time, Inc.

During the 1940 and ’50s—the heyday of photojournalism in the magazines—Evans, with his prickly, superior intelligence and jealously guarded independence, was not a useful role model for most working photographers. Yet, as the promise of the magazines began to lose its lustre, Evans increasingly became a hero to younger photographers who were not comfortable as part of an editorial team. Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, Diane Arbus, and Lee Friedlander are among the most significant later photographers who have acknowledged their debt to Evans. His influence on artists in fields other than photography has also been great.

John Szarkowski

Evans's photo of Allie Mae Burroughs, a symbol of the Great Depression

Berenice Abbott
Berenice Abbott, (born July 17, 1898, Springfield, Ohio, U.S.—died December 9, 1991, Monson, Maine), photographer best known for her photographic documentation of New York City in the late 1930s and for her preservation of the works of Eugène Atget.

Abbott studied briefly at the Ohio State University before moving in 1918 to New York City, where she explored sculpture and drawing on her own for four years. She continued these pursuits for a time in Berlin and then from 1923 to 1935 worked as a darkroom assistant to the American Dada and Surrealist artist Man Ray in Paris. In 1925 Abbott set up her own photography studio in Paris and made several well-known portraits of expatriates, artists, writers, and aristocrats, including James Joyce, André Gide, Marcel Duchamp, Jean Cocteau, Max Ernst, Leo Stein, Peggy Guggenheim, and Edna St. Vincent Millay. During this period she came into contact with the French photographer Eugène Atget, whose documentary work was at that time little known outside of Paris. After Atget’s death in 1927, Abbott retrieved his prints and negatives, saving them from destruction; in the following years she dedicated herself to promoting his work. (Her Atget collection was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 1968.)

Abbott returned to New York City in 1929 and was struck by its rapid modernization. Continuing to do portraits, she also began to document the city itself, no doubt inspired by Atget’s documentation of Paris. This project evolved into a Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration in 1935. For about three years she continued to document systematically the city’s changing architectural character in a series of crisp, objective photographs, some of which were published in 1939 in the book Changing New York (reissued as New York in the Thirties, 1973). During this period she was also on the advisory board of the Photo League (1936–52), an organization of photographers interested in capturing urban life.

Over the course of the next two decades Abbott taught photography at the New School for Social Research (now the New School) in New York and experimented with photography as a tool to illustrate scientific phenomena, such as magnetism and motion, for a mass audience. She also continued to document the landscape around her; for one project she photographed scenes along U.S. Route 1 from Florida to Maine. In 1968 she settled in Maine, where she concentrated on printing her work.

Among Abbott’s books are Guide to Better Photography (1941), The View Camera Made Simple (1948), Greenwich Village Today and Yesterday (1949), The World of Atget (1964), A Portrait of Maine (1968), and Berenice Abbott: Photographs (1970).

Berenice Abbott, Encampment of the unemployed, New York City, 1935.

August Sander
August Sander, (born November 17, 1876, Herdorf, near Cologne, Germany—died April 20, 1964, Cologne), German photographer who attempted to produce a comprehensive photographic document of the German people.

The son of a mining carpenter, Sander apprenticed as a miner in 1889. Acquiring his first camera in 1892, he took up photography as a hobby and, after military service, pursued it professionally, working in a series of photographic firms and studios in Germany. By 1904 he had his own studio in Linz, and, after his army service in World War I, he settled permanently in Cologne, where in the 1920s his circle of friends included photographers and painters dedicated to what was called Neue Sachlichkeit, or New Objectivity.

After photographing local farmers near Cologne, Sander was inspired to produce a series of portraits of German people from all strata of society. His portraits were usually stark, photographed straight on in natural light, with facts of the sitters’ class and profession alluded to through clothing, gesture, and backdrop. At the Cologne Art Society exhibition in 1927, Sander showed 60 photographs of “Man in the Twentieth Century,” and two years later he published Antlitz der Zeit (Face of Our Time), the first of what was projected to be a series offering a sociological, pictorial survey of the class structure of Germany.

When the Nazis came to power in 1933, however, Sander was subjected to official disapproval, perhaps because of the natural, almost vulnerable manner in which he showed the people of Germany or perhaps because of the heterogeneity it revealed. The plates for Antlitz der Zeit were seized and destroyed. (One of Sander’s sons, a socialist, was jailed and died in prison.) During this period Sander turned to less-controversial rural landscapes and nature subjects. Late in World War II he returned to his portrait survey, but many of the negatives were destroyed either in bombing raids or, later in 1946, by looters.

The Federal Republic of Germany awarded Sander the Order of Merit in 1960. His son Gunther published part of Sander’s archive of photographs in 1986, using the outline and the title his father had originally planned, Menschen des 20. Jahrhunderts (Citizens of the 20th Century).

August Sander

Manuel Alvarez Bravo
Manuel Alvarez Bravo, (born February 4, 1902, Mexico City, Mexico—died October 19, 2002, Mexico City), photographer who was most noted for his poetic images of Mexican people and places. He was part of the artistic renaissance that occurred after the Mexican Revolution (1910–20). Although he was influenced by international developments, notably Surrealism, his art remained profoundly Mexican.

Born into a family of artists and writers, Álvarez Bravo grew up in an “atmosphere in which art was breathed.” He left school at age 13 and took a job as an office boy and then as a clerk in government offices in order to help his family during financially difficult times. His interest in literature and the arts prompted him to study these subjects at night school. After meeting German photographer Hugo Brehme in 1923, he purchased his first camera. He was largely self-taught, and other photographers played a major role in his development

Through his friendship with Italian photographer Tina Modotti, Álvarez Bravo met the American photographer Edward Weston and many of the leading artists of the Mexican renaissance, including Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Rufino Tamayo, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco. He took over Modotti’s job as photographer for the magazine Mexican Folkways after her deportation. He had his first one-man show in 1932. That same year his interest in cinema was piqued when he worked as a cameraman on Sergey Eisenstein’s film Que viva Mexico! (never completed) and was furthered when he met Paul Strand just as the latter was completing the film Redes (1936). Like Strand’s film, Álvarez Bravo’s movie Tehuantepec (now lost) was based on a labour strike. But it was his still photography that made his reputation: he exhibited photographs regularly, and in 1935 he participated in a groundbreaking photo exhibition with the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson and the American photographer Walker Evans at the avant-garde Julien Levy Gallery in New York City.

Álvarez Bravo’s work went through several distinct phases. In the late 1920s, influenced by Weston, he took close-up photographs that transformed the subject (typically architecture or nature) into an artistic abstraction. By the early 1930s, however, he had begun to concentrate on the urban landscape of Mexico City, capturing everyday street life. The cacti and expansive horizon of Mexico’s landscape later became frequent subjects, and, throughout his career, politics often informed his photographs, notably Striking Worker Assassinated (1934). In 1939 he was asked by André Breton, one of the founders of Surrealism, to provide a photograph for the cover of an exhibition catalog, and the resulting image, The Good Reputation Sleeping (1939), which depicted a bandaged nude lying amid cactus buds, was among Álvarez Bravo’s best-known works. Breton also published many of Álvarez Bravo’s photographs in the Surrealist review Minotaure.

Early in his career he was influenced by abstract and Cubist art from Europe, so his work displays a strong sense of formal design. His interest in Mexican religious rituals such as the Day of the Dead introduced an element of the fantastic into his work, which gives his images the kind of hidden symbolism that is common in Surrealism. As in Surrealist art, things are not what they seem but suggest mysterious meanings. In 1997 he was the subject of a major retrospective show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Manuel Alvarez Bravo

Robert Doisneau
Robert Doisneau, (born April 14, 1912, Gentilly, France—died April 1, 1994, Broussais), French photographer noted for his poetic approach to street photography.

As a young man Doisneau attended the École Estienne in Paris to learn the crafts involved in the book trade, but he always claimed that the streets of the working class neighbourhood of Gentilly provided his most important schooling. In 1929, in an effort to improve his draftsmanship, he began photographing, just as Modernist ideas were beginning to promote photography as the prime medium for advertising and reportage. Doisneau first worked for the advertising photographer André Vigneau, in whose studio he met artists and writers with avant-garde ideas, and then during the Depression years of the 1930s he worked as an industrial photographer for the Renault car company. During the same period, Doisneau also photographed in the streets and neighbourhoods of Paris, hoping to sell work to the picture magazines, which were expanding their use of photographs as illustration.

With his career interrupted by World War II and German occupation, Doisneau became a member of the resistance, using his métier to provide forged documents for the underground. In 1945 he recommenced his advertising and magazine work, including fashion photography and reportage for Vogue magazine from 1948 to 1952. His first book of his photographs, La Banlieue de Paris (1949; “The Suburbs of Paris”) was followed by many volumes of photographs of Paris and Parisians.

In the 1950s Doisneau also became active in Group XV, an organization of photographers devoted to improving both the artistry and technical aspects of photography. From then on, he photographed a vast array of people and events, often juxtaposing conformist and maverick elements in images marked by an exquisite sense of humour, by anti-establishment values, and, above all, by his deeply felt humanism.

Robert Doisneau. Musician in the Rain Art Print

Brassai, original name Gyula Halász, French Jules Halasz (born September 9, 1899, Brassó, Transylvania, Austria-Hungary [now Romania]—died July 8, 1984, Eze, near Nice, France), Hungarian-born French photographer, poet, draughtsman, and sculptor, known primarily for his dramatic photographs of Paris at night. His pseudonym, Brassaï, is derived from his native city.

Brassaï trained as an artist and settled in Paris in 1924. There he worked as a sculptor, painter, and journalist and associated with such artists as Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí, and the writer Henry Miller. Although he disliked photography at the time, he found it necessary to use it in his journalistic assignments and soon came to appreciate the medium’s unique aesthetic qualities.

Brassaï’s early photographs concentrated on the nighttime world of Montparnasse, a district of Paris then noted for its artists, streetwalkers, and petty criminals. His pictures were published in a successful book, Paris de nuit (1933; Paris After Dark, also published as Paris by Night), which caused a stir because of its sometimes scandalous subject matter. His next book, Voluptés de Paris (1935; “Pleasures of Paris”), made him internationally famous.

When the German army occupied Paris in 1940, Brassaï escaped southward to the French Riviera, but he returned to Paris to rescue the negatives he had hidden there. Photography on the streets was forbidden during the occupation of Paris, so Brassaï resumed drawing and sculpture and began writing poetry. After World War II, his drawings were published in book form as Trente dessins (1946; “Thirty Drawings”), with a poem by the French poet Jacques Prévert. Brassaï turned again to photography in 1945, and two years later a number of his photographs of dimly lit Paris streets were greatly enlarged to serve as the backdrop for Prévert’s ballet Le Rendez-vous. Many of Brassaï’s postwar pictures continued the themes and techniques of his early work. In these photographs Brassaï preferred static over active subjects, but he imbued even the most inanimate images with a warm sense of human life.

The Museum of Modern Art in New York City held a retrospective exhibition of Brassaï’s work in 1968. His Henry Miller, grandeur nature (Henry Miller: The Paris Years) was published in 1975, and a book of his photographs entitled The Secret Paris of the 30’s in 1976. Artists of My Life, a collection of his photographic and verbal portraits of well-known artists, art dealers, and friends, was published in 1982.

Brassai. Salvador Dali