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mahJ : Erwin Blumenfeld : Le Dictateur. Amsterdam, 1933 – Paris, 1937


“ More than anyone else I owe Führer Schicklgruber. Without him […], I would not have had the courage to become a photographer. […] As a thank you, I made on the night of his accession to power a horror montage of his face with a skull and I then, completely drunk, ran through the night on the twenty -five kilometers that separate Amsterdam from Aerdenhout.”
Erwin Blumenfeld, Jadis et Daguerre – eds. Babel, 2022

In 1933, Blumenfeld produced a series of photomontages, in reaction to the accession to power of Adolf Hitler in Germany: on a portrait of the dictator, he painted tears of blood or superimposed a skull. If his compositions brought him closer to those of the Berlin Dadaist John Heartfield (Helmut Herzfeld, 1891-1968) in his criticism of Nazism through images, his message differed. In his photomontages for the magazine AIZ, the latter insisted on Hitler being an instrument of industrial and capitalist power, from a Marxist perspective, while Blumenfeld makes the Führer the incarnation of death.

Around 1937, he entitled The Minotaur or The Dictator, the photograph of a calf’s head surmounting an antique bust. A mythological monster with the body of a man and the head of a bull, the Minotaur was then in vogue among artists, testifying to a fascination for the animality of man. This character quickly symbolized the brutality of the nascent dictatorships of the 20th century.
Picabia took up, in 1941-42, the motif of the Minotaur by Blumenfeld in a painting exhibited at the mahJ, entitled The Adoration of the Calf.


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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