Erwin Blumenfeld (erwinblumenfeld.com), devotee of graphic design and fascinated by historical citations – his recreations of the great painters, from Vermeer to Manet are famous – is considered to be one of the founding fathers of the contemporary image.
An exhibition of his work, which includes around a hundred restored prints, curated by Nadia Blumenfeld Charbit, François Cheval and Ute Eskildsen, will be on show at the Carla Sozzani Gallery (galleriacarlasozzani.org) in Milan from the 15th of February. Considered one of the most important photographers of the 20th century, above all for his ability to experiment and innovate, he produced an impressive body of work in the 35 years of his career.
This included black and white portraits, nudes, shots of celebrities, and advertising campaigns. His works have been exhibited by all the major modern art galleries, from the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum for Photography, to the Musée Nicéphore Niépce Chalon sur Saône, and Paris Photo. Born in Berlin in 1897 to Jewish parents, he moved to Holland after the First World War, where he was influenced by the Dutch Dadaist movement. In the capital, Amsterdam, he would even open a clothing shop under the name of the Fox Leather Company.
During the course of his working life he realised over fifty covers for Vogue US and also worked for Life and Cosmopolitan magazines. During the Second World War Blumenfeld was interned in a French prisoner of war camp, but in 1941 managed to escape, with his family, via Marseilles, to the United States.
After his arrival in New York he began working for Harper’s Bazaar and within the space of a very few years became one of the most celebrated fashion photographers in the United States. After writing his autobiography, Eye to I, he died in Rome on the 4th of July 1969.