Step Sixteen: the American years of Erwin Blumenfeld

30 May

Erwin ballet

Fashion photographer Erwin Blumenfeld is remembered for opposing convention, and refusing to conform to what was expected of him in his field.

He was a Berlin-born Jew that was interned in French war camps during World War Two, but managed to escape to the US with his family.

Before the war, he had dabbled with photography, and when he reached New York, landed freelance work with Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue US.

It was during these years that, arguably, his creativity really flourished, and within a few years he had established himself as a leading fashion photographer.

erwin vogue ball

The latest exhibition to showcase his American work is “Blumenfeld Studio: New York, 1941-1960” at Somerset House, which just opened last week.

The post-war boom years are clearly celebrated in his photos that depict models on magazine covers; retro advertising campaigns for Dior, L’Oréal and the like; portraits of immaculate high-society women; and humorous photos that play on famous art such as Vermeer’s The Girl with a Pearl Earring, or Manet’s Bar des Folies Bergères.

The exhibition holds around 100 of his colourful prints and spans a few rooms.

Best for: getting a glimpse of New York’s buzz in the post-war era.

erwin green dress

The details:

Location: East Wing Galleries, Somerset House. Tube: Temple.

Opening hours: 10am-6pm daily, until 10pm Thursdays. Last admission 5:45pm.

Free admission.

On display until 1st September.


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