Erwin Blumenfeld

Born 1897, Berlin, Germany

Died 1969, Rome, Italy


1908   Receives his first camera and immediately begins taking and developing photographs.  From this moment, he begins to consider himself a photographer.

1913   Begins his career as an apprentice dressmaker at Moses and Schlochauer. 

World War I   Is drafted into the Germany army.

1918   After the war, he is exiled to the Netherlands. During this year, he meets George Grosz, Howard Mehring, and Paul Citroen.

1923   Opens a shop, the “Fox Leather Company,” in the center of the city.  Its specialty is lady’s handbags and Blumenfeld photographs many of his clients.  

1932   Moves the shop to a new location. Discovers a fully equipped dark room and participates in some of his first exhibitions at Carl van Lier’s gallery.

1936   The “Fox Leather Company” goes bankrupt.  Moves to Paris and sets up a photography business, where he is commissioned to take portraits of other artists, including Henri Matisse.  His photographs are clearly influenced by the Dada movement and experimentation. He also begins working with fashion photography in addition to his experimental photographic techniques, securing a contract with Vogue with the assistance of Cecil Beaton.

World War II   Is incarcerated at Le Vernet, a French concentration camp.  Through postcards and letters, his family was able to reunite after the war ended.

1941   With just one suitcase, the Blumenfeld family of five immigrates to the United States, settling in New York. Blumenfeld becomes a very successful freelance photographer for magazines such as Vogue, Life, and Harper’s Bazaar. 

Late 1950s   Begins creating motion pictures and begins working on his book, entitled Blumenfeld: Meine 100 Besten Fotos (My One Hundred Best Photos).

1960s   Works on his autobiography, which would be published posthumously. After his death in 1969, many other books on his works would be published as well.