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mahJ : Erwin Blumenfeld : Fashion photography. Paris-New York, 1937-1950


“What I really wanted: to be a photographer in onself, art for art’s sake, a new world that the American Jew Man Ray had just discovered in triumph.”
Erwin Blumenfeld, Jadis et Daguerre – eds. Babel, 2022

From his installation in Paris in 1936, inspired by the example of Man Ray, Blumenfeld engaged in a number of experiments. The female body became the main object of his formal explorations. He used accessories – veils, frosted glass, mirrors –, sophisticated lighting during shooting sessions, and reworked his images printing, in particular by masking, overprinting, solarisation or reticulation. “For me, the greatest magic of the 20th century is the darkroom,” he says.

Admiring his works, the British photographer Cecil Beaton introduced him in 1937 to Michel de Brunhoff, editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris, who immediately hired him. He demonstrated his talent in series of images like those of model Lisa Fonssagrives balancing on the structures of the Eiffel Tower, published in the May 1939 issue of Vogue.

He continued his fashion career in New York, for Harper’s Bazaar from 1939, a career interrupted during his two years of wandering in France from 39 to 41, then for Vogue US and many others.

He never tired of the magic of photography, in black and white as well as in color.

The exhibition shows all his experimental facets, in his personal and magazines works.


Curators: Nadia Blumenfeld-Charbit and Nicolas Feuillie


Les Tribulations d’Erwin Blumenfeld, 1930-1950
Until March 5, 2023
mahJ : Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme
Hôtel de Saint-Aignan
71 Rue du Temple
75003 Paris, France

Catalog : Les Tribulations d’Erwin Blumenfeld. Eds. mahJ/NMR 2022

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