Erwin Blumenfeld

Erwin Blumenfeld (26 January 1897 – 4 July 1969) was an American photographer of German origin. He was born in Berlin, and in 1941 emigrated to the United States, where he soon became a successful and well-paid fashion photographer, working as a free-lancer for Harper's Bazaar, Life and American Vogue. His personal photographic work showed the influence of Dadaism and Surrealism; his two main areas of interest were death and women. He was expert in laboratory work, and experimented with photographic techniques such as distortion, multiple exposure, photo-montage and solarisation.[1][2]

Erwin Blumenfeld
Erwin Blumenfeld photographed by Gordon Parks, 1950.jpg
Blumenfeld photographing Sophie Malgat, photographed by Gordon Parks, 1950
Born(1897-01-26)26 January 1897
Berlin, Germany
Died4 January 1969(1969-01-04) (aged 71)
Rome, Italy
Known forPhotography
Blumenfeld's photograph of a 1955 DeSoto Fireflite


Blumenfeld was born in Berlin on 26 January 1897. As a young man he worked in the clothes trade and wrote poetry.[3] In 1918 he went to Amsterdam, where he came into contact with Paul Citroen and Georg Grosz.[1] In 1933 he made a photomontage showing Hitler as a skull with a swastika on its forehead; this image was later used in Allied propaganda material in 1943.[3]

He married Lena Citroen, with whom he had three children, in 1921.[4]:143 In 1922 he started a leather goods shop, which failed in 1935.[4]:143[3] He moved to Paris, where in 1936 he set up as a photographer[1] and did free-lance work for French Vogue.[3] After the outbreak of the Second World War he was placed in an internment camp; in 1941 he was able to emigrate to the United States.[1] There he soon became a successful and well-paid fashion photographer, and worked as a free-lancer for Harper's Bazaar, Life and American Vogue.[1]

Blumenfeld died in Rome on 4 July 1969.[1]


Blumenfeld started working on Blumenfeld: Meine 100 Besten Fotos in 1955; it was eventually published in 1979; an English translation, Blumenfeld: My One Hundred Best Photos, was published in New York in 1981. Another autobiographical work was published in German as Einbildungsroman by Eichborn Verlag [de] in 1998, and in English as Eye to I: The Autobiography of a Photographer by Thames and Hudson in 1999.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Erika Billeter (2003). Blumenfeld, Erwin. Grove Art Online. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.T009382. (subscription required)
  2. ^ Blumenfeld, Erwin. Benezit Dictionary of Artists. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/benz/9780199773787.article.B00021202. (subscription required)
  3. ^ a b c d Sarah James (2013). House of Dada. Frieze (9) (April–May 2013). Accessed February 2018.
  4. ^ a b Anne Blecksmith (2006). Blumenfeld, Erwin. In: Lynne Warren (2006). Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Photography, volume 1. London; New York: Routledge. ISBN 9781135205430.

Additional sourcesEdit