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Erwin Blumenfeld
Amsterdam Paris New York
SC, 22 x 28 cm., with three fold-out posters.
Deborah Bell 2005

"Photographic history is chock-full of people who were painters before they became photographers, but very few were in women's wear to begin with. Erwin Blumenfeld (1897-1969), a name to conjure with in fashion photography, worked in the garment trade, later owned a leather goods shop and was also an artist before he became a photographer. The camera must have come as something of a relief, for Blumenfeld had a ripe talent for photography, a minor one for painting and none whatsoever for handbags.
He opened his shop in Amsterdam after World War I and immediately did so badly at the business game that desperation drove him into the arms of art.
Then he found a camera and a darkroom that the previous tenant had left in his store, and as his business went down the drain persuaded a few women who came in to let him make portraits of them (and occasionally nudes) instead. New portraits went into his shop window each morning among the crocodile extravagances, a photographer was born." Vicki Goldberg, New York Times -


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