HISTORY OF MODERN FRANCE
The Third French Republic 1870-1940. Part 7
3 November 2021
Germaine Krull (1897-1985)
Self-Portrait with Cigarette, 1925
Women Photographers in Paris, part I
with Sylvie Koneski
Following the exhibition that took place at the Met on The new Woman behind the Camera, this lecture will focus on how women photographers took up key vanguard position in Paris between the world wars.
“The New Woman of the 1920s was a powerful expression of modernity, a global phenomenon that embodied an ideal of female empowerment based on real women making revolutionary changes in life and art”.
In the early 1920s Paris emerged as a new center of avant-garde art. The French capital became a forum for photographers from many different countries and backgrounds because it stood as a model of modernity and a beacon of economic hope in the aftermath of the First World War, but also because it was a haven of political and religious freedom for those forced into exile. Women stood at the forefront of experimentation with the camera and produced invaluable visual testimony that reflects both their personal experiences and the extraordinary social and political transformations of the era.
Beyond the diffusion of their pictures in the press or their presentation during exhibitions, these women photographers take place in the history of photography in several ways: they created books and produced theoretical writings on the practice of the medium. Berenice Abbott began a career in portraiture and soon was taking photographs of some of the most exciting and influential figures in Paris at the time.
Germaine Krull made her breakthrough in 1928 as a staff photographer at the nascent Paris-based weekly magazine VU. Her portfolio Metal is a founding publication for the history of photography and shows her radical visual aesthetics, aligning her with New Objectivity photographers Florence Henri was trained as a painter and a photographer at the Bauhaus in Weimar. She used photography to manipulate light and objects in order to create a dialogue between realism and abstraction.
Ilse Bing was influenced by her association with members of the Bauhaus and the Parisian photographer André Kertesz: her work exemplifies formalist techniques.
Dora Maar (1907-97)
The years Lie in Wait for You, c. 1935
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