The Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme (mahJ) presents the exhibition The Tribulations of Erwin Blumenfeld, 1930-1950. Our version nowadays is committed to Blumenfeld, a single of the most influential photographers of the twentieth century. An experimenter and innovator, he produced an intensive body of do the job together with drawings, collages, portraits and nudes, movie star portraits, promotion strategies and his renowned manner pictures both equally in black and white and coloration. With several many thanks to Nadia Blumenfeld-Charbit for her assistance in producing this exclusive version.
Jean-Jacques Naudet


“As I experienced no other option remaining, I became a photographer. All people dissuaded me. Failed painters turned window show designer, failed window exhibit designer grew to become photographers. But photographer, what a decrease!“
Erwin Blumenfeld, Jadis and Daguerre – eds. Babel, 2022

In the 1940s, at virtually fifty, Erwin Blumenfeld proven himself in New York as a foremost vogue photographer. His illustrations or photos were being on the go over of quite a few magazines, such as Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, and remained references. Prior to reaching this results, Blumenfeld knowledgeable a tormented fate. Born in Berlin in 1897 into the built-in Jewish bourgeoisie, he was promised greater training. But the disappearance of his father in 1913 minimized the family to destroy, and he entered an apprenticeship in a clothes property. Mobilized in 1916, he worked as an ambulance driver, carting corpses, then accountant in a army brothel in the countryside. In 1918, his brother Heinz died on the entrance, and Erwin was virtually shot for desertion, right before joining his fiancée, Lena Citroen, in Amsterdam. There, he built a residing by opening a leather-based goods business enterprise and attempting to come across himself in artwork prior to devoting himself thoroughly to pictures from 1932. He still left the Netherlands for Paris in 1936 and, when he broke into fashion images , the war and the Occupation plunged him into two several years of wandering and internment in various camps in France and Morocco. In August 1941, he managed not with out problems to get to the United States with his loved ones.

The 1930s and 1940s are these of the revelation of his talent, served by primary and considerable artistic experiments, pursued with the exact fervor from Paris to New York. After beginnings inside of the Dada movement, marked by visionary photomontages on Nazism, Blumenfeld developed a do the job significantly from the difficulties of time. He was impressed by the capturing approaches of the “New Vision”, which he prolonged and renewed in the course of laboratory printing: solarisations, reticulations, superimpositions, mirrors and optical effects, online games of shadow and light hence variety a grammar at the services of a do the job where female beauty and the nude occupy a central position. In the United States, he grew to become a pioneer in the discipline of color photography, conducive to new activities.

The exhibition sheds gentle on this fruitful period for the photographer, and reveals new collection, these kinds of as the reportage on a gypsy household in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, or that on Native American dances in New Mexico. In the footsteps of the photographer, whose destiny was ultimately satisfied, it reveals an emblematic journey as that of many European Jewish artists in the turmoil of the 20th century.


Curators: Nadia Blumenfeld-Charbit and Nicolas Feuillie


Les Tribulations d’Erwin Blumenfeld, 1930-1950
Till 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