Martin Munkácsi’s influence…



Martin Munkácsi (born Mermelstein Márton; 18 May 1896 – 13 July 1963) was a Hungarian photographer who worked in Germany (1928–34) and the United States, where he was based in New York City.

Munkácsi was a newspaper writer and photographer in Hungary, specializing in sports. At the time, sports action photography could only be done in bright light outdoors. Munkácsi’s innovation was to make sports photographs as meticulously composed action photographs, which required both artistic and technical skill.

Munkácsi’s legendary big break was to happen upon a fatal brawl, which he photographed. Those photos affected the outcome of the trial of the accused killer, and gave Munkácsi considerable notoriety. That notoriety helped him get a job in Berlin in 1928, for the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, where his first published photo was a motorcycle splashing its way through a puddle. He also worked for the fashion magazine Die Dame.

More than just sports and fashion, he photographed Berliners, rich and poor, in all their activities. He traveled to Turkey, Sicily, Egypt, London, New York, and famously Liberia, for photo spreads in the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung.

The speed of the modern age and the excitement of new photographic viewpoints enthralled him, especially flying. There are aerial photographs; there are air-to-air photographs of a flying school for women; there are photographs from a Zeppelin, including the ones on his trip to Brazil, where he crosses over a boat whose passengers wave to the airship above.

On 21 March 1933, he photographed the fateful Day of Potsdam, when the aged President Paul von Hindenburg handed Germany over to Adolf Hitler. On assignment for the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, he photographed Hitler’s inner circle, although he was a Jewish foreigner.

In 1934, the Nazis nationalized the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, fired its Jewish editor-in-chief, Kurt Korff, and replaced its innovative photography with pictures of German troops.

Munkácsi left for New York, where he signed on, for a substantial $100,000, with Harper’s Bazaar, a top fashion magazine. In a change from usual practice, he often left the studio to shoot outdoors, on the beach, on farms and fields, at an airport. He produced one of the first articles in a popular magazine to be illustrated with nude photographs.

His portraits include Katharine Hepburn, Leslie Howard, Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford, Jane Russell, Louis Armstrong, and the definitive dance photograph of Fred Astaire.

Munkácsi died in poverty and controversy. Several universities and museums declined to accept his archives, and they were scattered around the world.

Berlin’s Ullstein Archives and Hamburg’s F. C. Gundlach collection are home to two of the largest collections of Munkácsi’s work.

He brought a taste for happiness and honesty and a love of women to what was, before him, a joyless, loveless, lying art. Today the world of what is called fashion is peopled with Munkácsi’s babies, his heirs…. The art of Munkácsi lay in what he wanted life to be, and he wanted it to be splendid. And it was.” – Richard AVEDON

Andreas Feininger, not only a Pictorialist…


Andreas Bernhard Lyonel Feininger (December 27, 1906 – February 18, 1999) was an American photographer and a writer on photographic technique. He was noted for his dynamic black-and-white scenes of Manhattan and for studies of the structures of natural objects.

Feininger was born in Paris, France, the eldest son of Julia Berg, a German Jew, and the American painter and art educator Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956). His paternal grandparents were the german violinist Karl Feininger (1844-1922) and the American singer Elizabeth Feininger, (née Lutz), who was also of German descent. His younger brother was the painter and photographer T. Lux Feininger (1910–2011).

In 1908 the Feininger family moved to Berlin, and in 1919 to Weimar, where Lyonel Feininger took up the post of Master of the Printing Workshop at the newly formed Bauhaus art school.

Andreas left school at 16, in 1922, to study at the Bauhaus; he graduated as a cabinetmaker in April 1925. After that he studied architecture, initally at the Staatliche Bauschule Weimar (State Architectural College, Weimar) and later at the Staatliche Bauschule Zerbst. (Zerbst is a city in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, about 20 km from Dessau, where the Bauhaus moved to in 1926.) The Feininger family moved to Dessau with the Bauhaus. In addition to continuing his architectual studies in Zerbst, Andreas developed an interest in photography and was given guidance by neighbour and Bauhaus teacher László Moholy-Nagy.

In 1936, he gave up architecture and moved to Sweden, where he focused on photography. In advance of World War II, in 1939, Feininger immigrated to the U.S. where he established himself as a freelance photographer. In 1943 he joined the staff of Life magazine, an association that lasted until 1962.

Feininger became famous for his photographs of New York. Other frequent subjects among his works were science and nature, as seen in bones, shells, plants, and minerals in the images of which he often stressed their structure. Rarely did he photograph people or make portraits.

Feininger wrote comprehensive manuals about photography, of which the best known is The Complete Photographer. In the introduction to one of Feininger’s books of photographs, Ralph Hattersley, the editor of the photography journal Infinity, described him as “one of the great architects who helped create photography as we know it today.” In 1966, the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) awarded Feininger its highest distinction, the Robert Leavitt Award. In 1991, the International Center of Photography awarded Feininger the Infinity Lifetime Achievement Award.

Today, Feininger’s photographs are in the permanent collections of the Center for Creative Photography, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, and the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York.

KALOMA…“I Married Wyatt Earp”

Rare original photo titled “Kaloma” that was widely circulated and a very famous early erotic image. This photo was used in the book “I Married Wyatt Earp” the recollections of Josephine Earp. There is much debate weather or not the image is really the wife of Earp or not. Still a very historic and one of the most famous early images of it’s type.





coverThe 1976 book I Married Wyatt Earp was believed to be a memoir of his widow Josephine Earp, but was many years later described as a fraud, creative exercise, and a hoax. Originally published by the respected University of Arizona Press, it is the second best-selling book about western Deputy U.S. Marshal Wyatt Earp ever sold. It was regarded for many years as a factual account that shed considerable light on the life of Wyatt Earp and his brothers in Tombstone, Arizona Territory. It was cited in scholarly works, assigned as classroom work, and used as a source by filmmakers. Amateur Earp historian Glenn Boyer said that the retouched image on the cover of a scantily-clad woman was of Josephine in her 20s, and based on his statements, copies of the image were later sold at auction for up to $2,875.

Boyer had a long-term relationship with members of the Earp family. He claimed that he used two manuscripts written by Josephine Earp as the basis for the memoir. The first was an account, allegedly composed by Josephine with the help of former Tombstone Mayor and The Tombstone Epitaph publisher John Clum, known as the “Clum manuscript”. The second, supposedly written by Josephine with the assistance of two Earp cousins, was known as the “Cason manuscript”. Josephine fiercely protected details of her and Wyatt’s early life in Tombstone, including her own life there and the existence of Wyatt Earp’s second wife, Mattie Blaylock, even threatening litigation to keep some details private. Josephine was repeatedly vague about her and Wyatt’s time in Arizona, so much so that the Earp cousins gave up collaborating with her and publishers refused to publish the manuscript.

In 1994, other Western researchers and rival authors of new Earp books identified alleged discrepancies in the book and began to challenge the authenticity of what they called the “Clum manuscript”. They also claimed to have identified factual errors and inconsistencies in other books published by Boyer, leading to an increasing number of questions about the veracity of his work. The risque cover image was linked to a photogravure titled Kaloma that had been first published by a novelty company in 1914. A 1998 investigative article in the Phoenix New Times revealed that Boyer could not prove the Clum manuscript existed and refused to allow the reporter access to the source documentation. The article also disclosed that the university press’ editor encouraged Boyer to embellish the account. During the interview, Boyer said that he had a responsibility to protect the reputation of the Earp brothers, and that he “had a license to say any darned thing I please…[to] lie, cheat, and steal.” Boyer found another publisher and continued to publish the work, representing it as an authentic history of Wyatt Earp’s life.

Edward Sheriff Curtis, ethnologist and photographer

“It’s such a big dream, I can’t see it all” – Edward S. Curtis

These words may have been the most profound Edward S. Curtis ever wrote. They were addressed to noted anthropologist George Bird Grinnell over one hundred years ago, shortly after what was to be the defining experience of Curtis’s life. In the summer of 1900, Curtis first encountered American Indian culture in a state relatively unaltered by contact with Europeans. He witnessed one of the last performances of the Sun Dance ceremony and was given access to the sacred lives of numerous American Indians.

“An Oasis in the Badlands”

The coalescence of these three events created a profound shock wave that affected the very foundation of Curtis’s life, his values, and his beliefs. Having become deeply impassioned by the power and dignity of the American Indian, Curtis began to realize for the first time that he might create a record preserving the history of these magnificent people and their extraordinary culture. In the same letter to Grinnell, Curtis went on to say, “But I can start-and sell prints of my pictures as I go along. I’m a poor man, but I’ve got my health, plenty of steam, and something to work for.” Curtis was thirty-two years old, with a family and a thriving business. His willingness to put at risk everything he had worked for up until then is a testament to his enlightened view of humanity, the strength of his individualism, and his creative genius.

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Edward Steichen, a master in the field

Edward Steichen & Gloria Swanson

Vintage photogravure by Edward Steichen, “Gloria Swanson”, 1924. Printed 1930. . (The silver print of this iconic image sold for $540,000 at Phillips de Pury & Company, New York – 04/24/2007.


GSSize: 9″ ½ h x 7 “½ w

Edward Jean Steichen (March 27, 1879 – March 25, 1973) was an American photographer, painter, and art gallery and museum curator.

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Faces of orientalism…by Lehnert and Landrock

Lehnert & Landrock : The Oriental photographers

 Heliogravures or photogravures (2) by Lehnert and Landrock,  – Tunisia, 1910’s


L&L1Ouled-Naïl, Tunisia, 1905

Heliogravure or photogravure by Lehnert and Landrock, 1920’s


Large heliogravure or photogravure by Lehnert and Landrock, 1920’s – size: 15″¼ x 11″¼

After travelling through Europe on foot, Lehnert’s quest for exploration leads him to Tunisia in 1903, where he discovers the charms of the Orient.
Having lived in Tunisia for one year, Lehnert befriends Landrock, where their mutual fascination in Northern Africa develops into a business in Tunisia.
Lehnert’s expertise in capturing the essence of the Orient, through his own artistic interpretations, is materialised through photography and transferred onto glass. The major body of Lehnert’s work can be categorised into three intertwining North African themes: pristine desert whose undulating forms are characterised by the contrast of light and shadow; the fertile oasis, source of life ; and the native traditional Tunisian woman, who is the embodiment of the extreme contrasts of the vastness of the desert and the contained richness of the oasis.
Lehnert travelled through the desert photographing these timeless images, returning to Tunis a master of the print making process gum bichromate, which was very popular in the 1920’s. Lehnert and Landrock began printing these exotic oriental images; however, their dream was brutally interrupted with the onset of World War I. Lehnert and Landrock proceeded to move their business to the heart of Egypt, Cairo in 1924. Continue reading

“DRTIKOL” ? How do you pronounce his name ?

František Drtikol, a modernist photographer.

Vintage art deco photogravures (2) circa 1920’s,


František Drtikol (1883-1961) was a Czech photographer of international renown. He is especially known for his characteristically epic photographs, often nudes and portraits.

FD2Nude study #1 – Photogravure – Size: 4″15 h x 8″4 w

There is a forlorn and tragic rhythm to the life of Czech photographer František Drtikol. Born in 1883 in a mining town in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire, he rose to become a prominent artist and famed portraiture photographer. He was an influential figure in an era known for its creative vigor. He created vivid images unlike anything anybody had ever seen. And yet when he died 78 years later, he was impoverished and virtually unknown.

FD1Nude study #2 – Photogravure – Size: 6″ ¾ h x 8″ ¾ w

Although it was primarily a center of mining, Příbram at the end of the 19th century had a small reputation for its artisans and craftsmen. The men who worked the mines (and their wives and children) often augmented their income through high quality craftwork, such as embroidery or woodcarving. Drtikol grew up with a desire to draw and paint. After a period of military service, he moved to Munich to study art. Continue reading

Yachts of the past

Photogravures of the most famous yachts  sailing in American and English waters in 1887…


photogravures process from the original negatives of N.L. Stebbins.


Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins (January 9, 1847 – July 10, 1922) was a noted American marine photographer, whose surviving photographs document an important era in the development of American maritime activities, as sweeping technological and social changed revolutionized activity on the water, in military, commercial and leisure spheres.

In addition to selling prints of his images, he also produced a number of books of nautical images in his lifetime, including an important illustrated coastal guide, which was path-breaking in showing the practical uses for photography. His photography (and, on occasion, writing) also appeared in such well-known magazines as The Rudder and Yachting.



Blossfeldt’s Plants & Flowers

KARL BLOSSFELDT (1865-1932) – Photogravures

Karl Blossfeldt portraitKarl Blossfeldt, German photographer, sculptor, teacher and artist is remembered today for his close-up, detailed photographs of living things, particularly plant life. Blossfeldt was intrigued with the way plants grew, and his unique style of arranging magnified images of his subjects against stark, neutral backgrounds celebrated their artistic structure and architectural elegance. Depicting the intricacies of buds, pods, twigs, tendrils, seeds and other plant components, the photographs amplify the amazing design found in natural form.  According to the artist, a plant never lapses into mere arid functionalism; it fashions and shapes, according to logic and suitability, and with its primeval force, compels everything to attain the highest artistic form.

Born in 1863, Blossfeldt spent much of his childhood in the Harz Mountains of central Germany. After an apprenticeship in sculpture and iron casting at the Art Ironworks and Foundry in Magdesprung, he began studies at the Institute of Royal Arts Museum in Berlin, attending on scholarship. It was during this time that Blossfledt started collecting plant forms to use as models for a drawing class. Eventually, he would seek these same forms as subjects for his photography.

29 Aconitum anthora

Photogravure – Plate #29 Aconitum anthora

A-Bloss-36 2 A-Bloss-87 2Blossfeldt created a series of plant photographs intended to teach his students to look to be inspired by natural form.  Appointed a teaching post at the Institute of Royal Arts Museum in 1898 (and where he remained until 1930), he established an archive for his photographs. Blossfeldt never received formal training in photography; even more remarkable, his camera of choice was homemade and specifically designed to magnify the subject at hand. This reflected his enduring interest in the repetitive patterns found in nature’s textures and forms.

9 Adiantum pedatum

IMG_0480Photogravure – Plate #9:  Adiantum pedatum