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mahJ : Erwin Blumenfeld : The effervescence of the avant-gardes. Paris, 1936-1938 : Portraits of people and things


“I seek, balancing on the limits of the possible, to release the unreal from reality, to realize visions, to penetrate through unknown transparencies.”
Erwin Blumenfeld, “The mystery of reality rediscovered by photography”, L’Amour de l’art, Paris, 1938

Erwin Blumenfeld’s career as a photographer began in Amsterdam when, his leather goods business in decline, he asked his clients to take their portraits. In 1932, he discovered in his back room a bellows camera and a laboratory allowing the development and printing of his images. Geneviève, daughter of the painter Georges Rouault, on her honeymoon in the Netherlands, discovered his images in the window and introduced him to the Parisian artistic milieu. He landed in Paris in January 1936 and produced portraits of leading figures. But he also satisfied his artistic curiosity: he photographed the cathedral of Rouen or Notre-Dame de Paris, the sculptures of Maillol and Matisse, the African and Amerindian objects of the Musée de l’Homme, which opened in the Trocadéro Palace in 1937. His photographs were published in prestigious magazines such as Arts & Métiers Graphiques, Verve and XXe siècle. From the outset, he adopted a modern grammar – tight framing, daring compositions – using techniques such as superposition and solarization.


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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