Erwin Blumenfeld:Imagining Photography

Erwin Blumenfeld (Berlin 1897-Rome 1969)

One of the most influential fashion photographers of the twentieth century, Erwin Blumenfeld had his roots in Europe. He grew up in the pre-WWI Berlin, in a Jewish household, a childhood that was brutally interrupted by his father’s death and the family’s bankruptcy forcing him to leave school and work in women’s wear, and by the first world war, in which he fought as German soldier. Seventeen years in Amsterdam  where he married Lena Citroen and founded a family with three children, brought him from the Dada graphic work and close relationship with the artist Paul Citroen, to the practice of photography, first as a portrait photographer, then to many experimental creations, both graphic and photographic, of beauty and of politics in the years of the rise of Nazism and amidst financial difficulties.

The gamble to come to Paris in 1936 opened for Blumenfeld the world of fashion photography, most notably for Vogue.

WWII brutally interrupted his career as he barely managed to escape from France with his family after two years between internment camps and attempts to leave to America.

New York was finally reached in 1941, fashion magazines, Harper’s Bazaar and then Vogue and many others opened for him to the new world of color photography and that of success.

Blumenfeld’s practice of B&W photography never ceased throughout the twenty years to follow, nor did his love of all experimentations including films.

In the sixties, he devoted his time between writing his autobiography (Eye to I), and composing a book that he named “My 100 Best Photos”.