Blumenfeld Studio: New York, 1941–1960 – Somerset House

23.05.13 – 01.09.13

 Erwin Blumenfeld © Erwin Blumenfeld


Somerset House


Opening Times:  10.00-18.00 (Last admission 17.30)

East Wing Galleries, East Wing

Admission: Free

Further Information: 020 7845

“I use a trick to soften the models face just before photographing her. I ask her, ‘Will you marry me?’ It’s the one formula that makes the American women tick” BBC Four – The Man Who Shot Beautiful Women.

One of the greatest and highest paid fashion photographers of the 20th century is finally being credited for his incredibly creative and innovative eye. Erwin Blumenfeld’s exquisite work has resurfaced and is now receiving it’s well deserved recognition. Today an exhibition at Somerset House of Blumenfeld’s studio work from his prolific career spanning 35 years, honours his most successful period, from 1941 – 1960.

 Blumenfeld was one of the most internationally sought-after portrait and fashion photographers in the 1940s and 1950s. America’s leading magazines, including Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar hired him for his imaginative and highly individual shots. The show at Somertset House focuses on the little-known history of his photography studio at 222 Central Park South in New York. Around 100 colour photographs and originals of Erwin Blumenfeld’s works in fashion magazines provide insights into this key artistic phase in his life.

However funnily enough Blumenfeld’s first job had nothing to do with photography, he began his career working as an apprentice dressmaker, he opened his own company in Amsterdam in 1923, a leather goods store specialising in ladies handbags that went bankrupt in 1935. After this period he went on to work for Vogue Paris and then for Vogue NY, which in turn made Erwin Blumenfeld at the time one of the highest paid fashion photographers in the world and still to this has photographed more covers for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar than any other living photographer.

Yet sadly since his forced upon death in 1969, he has been least remembered in comparison with renowned names of today such as Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Cecil Beaton and William Klein.

Erwin Blumenfeld © Erwin Blumenfeld

 Blumenfeld left behind an expansive collection of 30,000 transparencies and more than 150 collages, many of which have never been published or seen by the public. Which makes it all the more remarkable that the grandchildren, Remy and his cousins, Yvette Blumenfeld-Georges and Nadia Blumenfeld-Charbit, have worked together to create this wonderful exhibition at Somerset House.

As well as this Blumenfeld-Charbit and Remy are also in the progress of working on an insightful website (, which is due to go live at the end of May). This will contain hundreds of images from each period of Blumenfeld’s photographic career, including early experiments and the Dadaist collages to his films which he worked on into the 1960s. Plus links to museums and publications and a discussion forum.

The show is due to run on until the 1st of September, displaying some of Blumenfeld’s most impressive work. Whether you are new to his photographs or not this is a must see exhibition which is bound to inspire and excite you!

Erwin Blumenfeld © Erwin Blumenfeld

Information: Somerset House 

BBC Four – The Man Who Shot Beautiful Women