Erwin Blumenfeld


"Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris; Europe was a renunciation, a wound never healed. Here is an uncommon case: a photographer who does not want to turn back towards old Europe, guilty of having betrayed its ideals of humanity and beauty, and who suffers from an incurable pain, the lack of culture and American "synchronism". He who believed in the merits of art, in the avant-gardes, has no remaining ambition than to stifle this daily triviality. E. Blumenfeld scatters footnotes on his kodachromes and ektachromes, constant reminders of a past that he cannot bury, which cannot part with him. Nothing new since his forced departure from France, the aesthetics remains unchanging: solid and full of nuances, somewhat charming, but always precise. He makes his two routes agree, modernity and classicism, meaning playfulness and rigor. The daring of his poses and his framing balances the precision of the composition. Finally, he does not care about the object of the assignment, the clothes. He redirects this object. Here is the pleasure. And to this end, no effort is ever in vain in the studio. The will to escape from the daily grind, grey and morose, pointless, runs across the photograph. One must leave behind the smell of reality, of its appearance, its traps. Only the conjunction of will and libido, united in art can spare us from the monotony and the baseness of feelings. The joy of color stems from high expectations. A demand that never ceased to grow for an image that could suffer no fault at the risk of barrenness."

François Cheval, Extract from the preface to « Blumenfeld Studio, Couleur, New York, 1941-1960 », Steidl, 2012