PARIS (AP) — A new exhibit in Paris on fashion photographer Erwin Blumenfeld showcases his dark, experimental side, positioning him as one of the great yet undervalued photographers of the 20th century.
Blumenfeld made his name with snaps that graced the covers of fashion magazines such as "Vogue" and "Harper's Bazaar" from the 1930s to the 1950s.
But the exhibit at Paris' Jeu de Paume, which opens Tuesday, shows this as only one of the many talents of the German Jew who fled Nazi Europe and whose work during the 1930s shunned Adolf Hitler.
The exhibit of some 300 works puts together black-and-white photos that used influential experimental techniques with infra-red and frames in the negative, sections of abstract and distorted female nudes, sketches and avant-garde colorist work.
"He was not just a fashion photographer. He was one of the great photographers of the 20th century," says curator Ute Eskildsen. "I hope this will get people to look at Blumenfeld in a different way."
Eskildsen also wanted the retrospective to highlight socio-political aspect of his art between the two world wars and his experience as an émigré in New York from 1941.
But the most powerful of Blumenfeld's photos are his visceral reaction to Hitler's rise to power. A series entitled "Hitler, Face of Terror" from 1933 shows the Fuhrer's face dehumanized and merged with a skull — achieved through a technique of combining negatives. Elsewhere, Hitler is represented allegorically as a black-and-white calf's head with jagged teeth.
This is from the same man who snapped the world's first supermodel, Lisa Fonssagrives, swinging gracefully from the Eiffel Tower in a billowing check dress.
Thomas Adamson can be followed at Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP
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