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mahJ : Erwin Blumenfeld : Gypsies. Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, 1928-1932


“Each image a story. As I take beauty seriously. All my portraits are charged with the moment that is mine.”
Erwin Blumenfeld, Jadis et Daguerre – eds. Babel, 2022

Before making it his profession, Blumenfeld practiced photography as an amateur – an activity he discovered at the age of 10, when he received his first box camera from an American uncle, which was followed by many cameras. Among his many personal shots, there is an unpublished set devoted to the Gypsies gathered for the pilgrimage at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, from a pleasure trip to the Camargue in 1928 with Lena, his wife. Blumenfeld photographed the caravans, the fairground and its rides, a fortune teller, and produced portraits of mothers with their offspring, or of children posing proudly. A few portraits of young women against a neutral background complete this series: they were probably taken later in the photographer’s studio in Amsterdam.

The last photograph is taken from a negative left in Paris during the war, Blumenfeld in his escape was able to entrust his negatives to a friend, a model who hid them in a cellar. This negative is the only one that was damaged and printed as is in New York. Entitled “Our Lady of Deterioration”, it is emblematic of the fate of these populations during the Second World War.


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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