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Erwin Blumenfeld
Erwin Blumenfeld

Erwin Blumenfeld

Country: Germany/United States
Birth: 1897 | Death: 1969

Born in Berlin in 1897 to Jewish parents, Erwin Blumenfeld began his career working as an apprentice dressmaker to Moses and Schlochauer in 1913. He opened his own company in Amsterdam in 1923, the 'Fox Leather Company', a leather goods store specialising in ladies handbags. After moving to new premises in 1932, Blumenfeld discovered a fully equipped dark room and began to photograph many of his -predominantly female- customers. The company went bankrupt in 1935, just as Blumenfeld's photographic career was beginning to take an upward turn.

Following a move to Paris in 1936, Blumenfeld was commissioned to take the portraits of personalities including George Rouault and Henri Matisse and secured his first advertising work for Monsavon. Blumenfeld quickly captured the attention of photographer Cecil Beaton who helped him secure a contract with French Vogue.

After World War II in 1941, Erwin Blumenfeld moved to New York where he was immediately put under contract by Harper's Bazaar and after three years, he began freelance work for American Vogue. Over the next fifteen years, Blumenfeld's work was featured on numerous Vogue covers and in a variety of publications including Seventeen, Glamour and House & Garden. During this period, he also worked a photographer for the Oval Room of the Dayton Department Store in Minneapolis and produced advertising campaign for cosmetics clients such as Helena Rubinstein, Elizabeth Arden and L'Oreal.

In the late 50s, he also began to create motion pictures, hoping to use them commercially and began work on his biography and his book My One Hundred Best Photos which, despite being a renowned fashion photographer, only included four of his fashion images. Following Blumenfeld's death in 1969, numerous books on his work have been published, namely The Naked and the Veiled by his son, Yorick Blumenfeld, and his photographs have been exhibited at international galleries including the Pompidou Gallery in Paris, The Barbican in London and The Hague Museum of Photography in the Netherlands.

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.

Source: Wikipedia


Erwin Blumenfeld is considered to be one of the early pioneers of fashion photography alongside George Hoyningen-Huene, Cecil Beaton, and Horst P. Horst. It was not only his employment of experimental techniques in the darkroom, Dada and Surrealist influences, and groundbreaking street work, but Blumenfeld’s unique and masterful combination of elegance and eroticism that transformed fashion into high art and paved the way for Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Herb Ritts, and other photographers who enjoyed such prominence and recognition in the history of art.

In addition to holding the record for the most covers of Vogue, Blumenfeld’s works were abundantly reproduced within the pages of Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Life and Vogue during the 1930s, '40s and '50s. Many of the images from these shoots will be featured in this exhibition and have since become icons of the history of fashion photography. Some have never been seen before. But all of the prints showcase not only Blumenfeld’s innovation as a photographer of fashion but also his spectacular skill as a printmaker. In his retrospective examination of Blumenfeld’s work, William Ewing writes, “His highly original and visionary work was a seamless blend of the negative and positive: taking the picture in the studio and making it in the darkroom.”

In the studio, Blumenfeld often employed mirrors, glass, and backgrounds reproduced from paintings, images of cathedrals, or mosaics of magazine covers. He often used veils, which could distort or elongate the figure, confident that a woman partially concealed was more erotically charged that one seen fully nude. He also believed the printing of the image was as every bit as important as the process of capturing it, and like Man Ray, he was tirelessly inventive in the darkroom, deploying a variety of optical and chemical tricks, including multiple exposures, solarization and bleaching.

Source: Edwynn Houk Gallery

 

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Carl Mydans
United States
1907 | † 2004
Carl Mydans was an American photographer who worked for the Farm Security Administration and Life magazine. Mydans grew up playing on the Mystic River near Medford, near Boston, Massachusetts. His father was an oboist. Mydans became devoted to photography while in college at Boston University. While working on the Boston University News he abandoned childhood dreams of being a surgeon or a boat builder in favor of journalism. His first reporting jobs were for The Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. After college, he went to New York as a writer for American Banker and then in 1935 to Washington to join a group of photographers in the Farm Security Administration. There he worked with other photographers like Dorothea Lange and Ben Shahn to document the conditions of the American rural workers. 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The two moved in together, and remained together for the next ten years in Carmel, California. Here, Bernhard worked with Group f/64. Soon, finding Carmel a difficult place in which to earn a living, they moved to Hollywood where she fashioned a career as a commercial photographer. In 1953, they moved to San Francisco where she became a colleague of photographers such as Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Minor White, and Wynn Bullock. Most of Bernhard's work is studio-based, ranging from simple still lifes to complex nudes. In the 1940s she worked with the conchologist Jean Schwengel. She worked almost exclusively in black-and-white, though there are rumors that she had done some color work as well. She also is known for her lesbian themed works, most notably Two Forms (1962). In that work, a black woman and a white woman who were real-life lovers are featured with their nude bodies pressed against one another. In 1967, Bernhard began a teaching career. This same year, Bernhard met United States Air Force Colonel Price Rice, an African American man ten years younger than her, and the two became lovers. They would remain together until his death in 1999. In her 90s, Bernhard cooperated with biographer Margaretta K. Mitchell in the book Ruth Bernhard, Between Art and Life, publicly revealing her many affairs with women and men throughout her lifetime. A departure was a collaboration with Melvin Van Peebles (as "Melvin Van"), then a young cable car gripman (driver) in San Francisco. Van Peebles wrote the text and Bernhard took the unposed photographs for The Big Heart, a book about life on the cable cars. In the early 1980s, Bernhard started to work with Carol Williams, owner of Photography West Gallery in Carmel, California. Bernhard told Williams that she knew there would be a book of her photography after her death, but hoped one could be published during her lifetime. Williams approached New York Graphics Society, and several other photographic book publishers, but was advised that "only Ansel Adams could sell black-and-white photography books." Bernhard and Williams decided to sell five limited edition prints to raise the necessary funds to publish a superior quality book of Ruth Bernhard nudes. The ensuing edition was produced by David Gray Gardner of Gardner Lithograph, (also the printer of Adams's books) and was called The Eternal Body. It won Photography Book of the Year in 1986 from Friends of Photography. This book was often credited by Ruth Bernhard as being an immeasurable help to her future career and public recognition. The Eternal Body was reprinted by Chronicle Books and later as a deluxe limited Centennial Edition in celebration of Ruth Bernhard's 100th birthday in October 2005. Carol Williams credited Ruth Bernhard with encouraging her to venture into book publishing, and later published several other photographic monographs. In the 1980s Bernhard also started to work with Joe Folberg. Folberg bought Vision Gallery from Douglas Elliott (who founded it in 1979) in San Francisco in 1982. Bernhard and Folberg worked together until Folberg's death. The gallery split with Debra Heimerdinger taking over operations in North America and Folberg's son Neil moving the "Vision Gallery" to Jerusalem. In 1984 Ruth worked with filmmaker Robert Burrill on her autobiographic film entitled, Illuminations: Ruth Bernhard, Photographer. The film premièred in 1989 at the Kabuki Theater in San Francisco and on local PBS station KQED in 1991. Bernhard was inducted into the Women's Caucus for Art in 1981. Bernhard was hailed by Ansel Adams as "the greatest photographer of the nude". Bernhard died in San Francisco at age 101.Source: Wikipedia
Saul Leiter
United States
1923 | † 2013
Saul Leiter was an American photographer and painter whose early work in the 1940s and 1950s was an important contribution to what came to be recognized as the New York school of photography. Saul Leiter was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His father was a well-known Talmud scholar and Saul studied to become a rabbi. His mother gave him his first camera at age 12. At age 23, he left theology school and moved to New York City to become an artist. He had developed an early interest in painting and was fortunate to meet the Abstract Expressionist painter Richard Pousette-Dart. Pousette-Dart and W. Eugene Smith encouraged Leiter to pursue photography and he was soon taking black and white pictures with a 35 mm Leica, which he acquired for a few Eugene Smith prints. In 1948, he started taking color photographs. He began associating with other contemporary photographers such as Robert Frank and Diane Arbus and helped form what Jane Livingston has termed the New York School of photographers during the 1940s and 1950s. Leiter worked as a fashion photographer for the next 20 years and was published in Show, Elle, British Vogue, Queen, and Nova. In the late 1950s the art director Henry Wolf published Leiter’s color fashion work in Esquire and later in Harper's Bazaar. Edward Steichen included Leiter’s black and white photographs in the exhibition Always the Young Stranger at the Museum of Modern Art in 1953. Leiter’s work is featured prominently in Jane Livingston’s book The New York School (1992) and in Martin Harrison’s Appearances: Fashion Photography since 1945 (1991). In 2008, the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris mounted Leiter's first museum exhibition in Europe with an accompanying catalog. Leiter is the subject of a 2012 feature-length documentary In No Great Hurry - 13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter, directed and produced by Tomas Leach. Leiter is a featured subject, among others, in the documentary film Tracing Outlines (2015) by 2nd State Productions. Martin Harrison, editor and author of Early Color (2006), writes, "Leiter’s sensibility . . . placed him outside the visceral confrontations with urban anxiety associated with photographers such as Robert Frank or William Klein. Instead, for him the camera provided an alternate way of seeing, of framing events and interpreting reality. He sought out moments of quiet humanity in the Manhattan maelstrom, forging a unique urban pastoral from the most unlikely of circumstances." Leiter died on 26 November 2013 in New York City.Source: Wikipedia When we do not know why the photographer has taken a picture and when we do not know why we are looking at it, all of a sudden we discover something that we start seeing. I like this confusion. -- Saul Leiter Leiter’s first exhibition of color photography was held in the 1950s at the Artist's Club, a meeting place for many of the Abstract Expressionist painters of that time. Edward Steichen included twenty-three of Leiter's black and white photographs in the seminal 1953 exhibition Always the Young Stranger at the Museum of Modern Art; he also included twenty of Leiter’s color images in the 1957 MoMA conference Experimental Photography in Color. In the late 1950s, the art director Henry Wolf published Leiter's color fashion work in Esquire and later in Harper's Bazaar. However, over the next four decades, Leiter’s noncommercial work remained virtually unknown to the wider art world. He continued to work as a fashion photographer through the 1970s, contributing to such publications as in Show, Elle, British Vogue, Queen, and Nova. Leiter is now held to be a pioneer of early color photography, and is noted as one of the outstanding figures in post-war photography. After several exhibitions at Howard Greenberg Gallery throughout the 1990s, Leiter’s work experienced a surge of popularity after a monograph, Early Color, was published by Steidl in 2006. Early Color was followed by a series of monographs and international exhibitions highlighting the depth and scope of his work in photography and painting, beginning with In Living Color (2006), his first major retrospective at the Milwaukee Museum of Art. Leiter was the subject of several solo shows thereafter, including the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris; the Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam; Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne; and Diechtorhallen, Hamburg.Source: Howard Greenberg Gallery Some photographers think that by taking pictures of human misery, they are addressing a serious problem. I do not think that misery is more profound than happiness. -- Saul Leiter
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