Erwin Blumenfeld, ‘Nude in the Mirror, Paris’, 1938, Osborne Samuel

Stamped 'From the Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld'

Compositions with mirrors are common in Blumenfeld’s work. In many images, they proved a double vision - of the full face and of the profile. ‘Mother had taught me that the eye was the mirror of the soul… Even if, in the meantime, I had learned that the opposite was the case, I remain persuaded that, behind the transparency of glass, another life in another world is being played out. We are doubles. Without a mirror, I would never have become a man. Mockers might call this a Narcissus complex: no art without a mirror, no music without an echo.’ (Metayer)

Barbican Art Gallery, A Fetish for Beauty. London, 1996.

Blumenfeld, Erwin. Blumenfeld: My One Hundred Best Photos. Rizzoli: New York (1971), no. 77.
William A. Ewing, A Fetish for Beauty: Blumenfeld. Barbican Art Gallery: London (1996). no. 72.
Blumenfeld, Yorick. The Naked and the Veiled: The Photographic Nudes of Erwin Blumenfeld. Thames & Hudson: London (1999). Title page.
Métayer, Michel. Erwin Blumenfeld. Phaidon: London, 2004. no.16.

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