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Osborne Samuel Gallery showcases the early works of photographer Erwin Blumenfeld
Erwin Blumenfeld, Gestures, New York, 1942, Silver Gelatin Print, Courtesy Osborne Samuel.

LONDON.- Osborne Samuel announces Erwin Blumenfeld: From Dada to Vogue, highlighting rare works from one of the most influential photographers of the twentieth century, Erwin Blumenfeld. This exhibition, curated by Lou Proud, brings together a collection of Blumenfeld’s early photographs, some of which have never been exhibited in the UK before.

Shedding light on his seldom explored formative years, this exhibition explores how Blumenfeld’s Dadaist collages informed his experimental fashion photography. Featuring original black and white silver gelatin prints, collages, drawings and personal ephemera, this exhibition delves into the early beginnings of Blumenfeld’s pioneering technique.

Revealing the wider practice of an artist best known for creating some of the most iconic images in the twentieth century - including his influential 'doe eye' cover shot for Vogue - this exhibition celebrates his output during his early years, exploring the foundations of his innovative, experimental style.

From the beginning of his career, Blumenfeld presented himself as an avant-garde artist, pushing the boundaries of the medium of photography, using double exposure, photomontage and a host of original techniques that placed his unconventional work at the forefront of photography in the 1940s.

From Dada to Vogue includes collages made under his Dadaist pseudonym Jan Bloomfield in Amsterdam, as well as Nude and Manina, examples of his innovative portraiture in Paris, which caught Cecil Beaton’s eye and began his career in fashion photography.

Drawing on his extensive body of work created throughout his thirty-five career, this exhibition will present pieces that speak to Blumenfeld’s remarkable artistic trajectory. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.

Lou Proud, Curator said: It is simply not possible to put into few words the importance of Erwin Blumenfeld's work, let alone its stand alone beauty and ever resounding influence on today's image makers. It’s fascinating how someone who did everything possible to stretch, bend and break the existing boundaries of traditional photography, managed to create works that reach far beyond what we could ever dream that the medium of photography would and could deliver, leaving us In Memoriam, with what only can be described as 'solidified magic'.

Peter Osborne, Director of Osborne Samuel Gallery said: We are remarkably fortunate to exhibit an extraordinary collection of exceptional work from one of the greatest artists and photographers of the 20th century. Coming directly from the family of the artist, we will show some of his earliest experimental work, Dada and surrealist collages and controversial early photographs, tracing his journey from Berlin to Amsterdam, Paris and finally New York. Much of the work will be shown for the first time in the UK.

Erwin Blumenfeld (1897-1969) was born in 1897 in Berlin into a Jewish bourgeois family. After his father's death he entered an apprenticeship in the garment industry and then served as a soldier in France in the First World War. In 1918 he left to Holland and married Lena Citroen, opening a leather goods shop in Amsterdam in 1923 whilst also trying to become a painter. During the early twenties he participated in the Dada movement as a self-proclaimed head of the Dutch Dada movement, under the pseudonym of Jan Bloomfield. He began experimenting with photography in the early thirties, taking photographs of customers in his shop and later exhibiting his works at the Van Lier gallery in Amsterdam. When his business went bankrupt, he left for Paris in 1935 where he was introduced to the world of fashion photography and to French Vogue magazine, thanks to Cecil Beaton who admired his photographs. During World War II, Blumenfeld was interned in French war camps but managed to escape to the US with his family in 1941 through Marseilles. In New York where he was offered a contract by Harper’s Bazaar and after three years began freelance work for Vogue US. Within a few years he had become one of the most famous color fashion photographers in the US. He continued to work in fashion and advertising until the early sixties, when he devoted his time to writing his autobiography 'Eye to I'. He died in Rome in 1969.

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