The Naked and the Veiled: The Photographic Nudes of Erwin Blumenfeld

The Naked and the Veiled: The Photographic Nudes of Erwin Blumenfeld

Erwin Blumenfeld shot to fame in 1938 with the publication of 14 sensational nude photographs in Verve magazine. The commission led to a career as one of the most gifted and sought-after fashion photographers of the 40s and 50s. However, throughout his career Blumenfeld remained fascinated with the naked female form and its representation within photography. In The Naked and the Veiled: The Photographic Nudes of Erwin Blumenfeld, his son Yorick traces Erwin’s fascination with the nude to his visit at the age of 9 to an artist’s studio in Berlin. Surprised by the young boy’s entrance, the naked model quickly threw a diaphanous cloth over herself. But the outline of her body was still visible against the light. Inspired by this moment, Blumenfeld later claimed that women could become "even more naked by their transparent veils. A psychoanalyst would have a field day with this comment, as well as Blumenfeld’s subsequently compulsive and fetishistic photographs of the naked female form, captured over 40 years spanning his early days in Holland in the 1920s to his later years in the USA in the 1960s.

The Naked and the Veiled: The Photographic Nudes of Erwin Blumenfeld
The Naked and the Veiled: The Photographic Nudes of Erwin Blumenfeld

Blumenfeld (1897-1969)

was a member of that generation of artists and intellectuals who came to America to escape the Third Reich. Always a deeply experimental photographer who sought to manipulate his images in the darkroom, Blumenfeld became an extremely influential fashion photographer for venues like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Throughout his career, he studied the female form, making a lifelong project of highly engineered nude photos that were too risque? to be published by the standards of their time. He viewed these photos as descended from the Venuses of Botticelli and Lucas Cranach, and Blumenfeld’s impact is large enough to be seen in the work of heirs as divergent as Helmut Newton and Cindy Sherman. His son here compiles the work into aesthetic categories (though a plain chronological arrangement would have better shown the evolution of his style) and contributes well-written biocritical essays. Within the demimonde of artistic nude photography, this is a landmark publication of great use to all larger art collections.

Source: &Copy; Douglas F. Smith, Oakland P.L., CA &Copy; 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

The Naked and the Veiled: The Photographic Nudes of Erwin Blumenfeld de Erwin Blumenfeld, Yorick Blumenfeld
Éditeur: Thames & Hudson
Parution: Octobre 1999
Pages: 144
ISBN-13: 978-0500542309

 

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