Erwin Blumenfeld, ‘Autobiographie, Amsterdam’, 1923, Osborne Samuel

The upper element of collage shows the crew of the U-boat U9 cut from a postcard with the title “Unsere Helden” (Our Heroes). On September 22nd 1914, U9 sank three ships in short succession, thereby killing some 1,500 British soldiers. The German commander, Captain Lieutenant Otto Weddigen was elebrated as a war hero, and every man on board was decorated with the Iron Cross. Blumenfeld was particularly sensitive to how heroes were designated: in 1917, he had himself been awarded the Iron Cross for giving French lessons to his corporal. His younger brother, who died in the war did not receive any award.
(Adkins, p.16).

Jeu de Paume, Erwin Blumenfeld: Photographs, Drawings and Photomontages. Yale University Press: London (2013). p.57.

The Artist and thence by descent

About Erwin Blumenfeld

Among the most successful photographers of the 20th century, Erwin Blumenfeld brought a radical, avant-garde vision to his work in portraiture, nudes, fashion, and advertising, effectively re-defining the potential of his medium. Though he took his first photographs in 1907, it was not until 1941, after arriving in New York to escape Nazi persecution, that his career took off. Working for the Condé Nast family of publications, most notably Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, he shot fashion spreads and hundreds of covers, which effectively shaped the look of 1940s and ’50s America. Strands of German Expressionism, Dadaism, and Surrealism, movements with which he experimented while in Europe, run throughout Blumenfeld’s work, apparent, for example, in the most famous cover he shot for Vogue, featuring the face of a model pared down to her lips, eye, and a single beauty mark.

German-American, 1897-1969, Berlin, Germany