Louis Alphonse Poitevin (1819-1882)
Louis Alphonse Poitevin was born in the small town of Conflans-sur-Anille, halfway between Paris and Nantes, on August 30, 1819. After graduating from school in 1838, he moved to Paris to study chemistry at the École Centrale des Arts et Manufacture. In 1839, the discovery of the daguerreotype was announced at the Académie des sciences, and Poitevin became immediately hooked on photography. He purchased a camera and the necessary utensils for this new art and began making daguerreotypes in his free time.
Poitevin left the École Centrale just as France was entering the era of industrialisation, and from 1844 on he was quickly able to find employment as a chemical engineer. Over the next 30 years, he worked in salt and copper mines and glassware factories all over France and even in Algeria. At these locations, and in bouts between assignments, he dedicated his spare time to the study and invention of new photographic processes, in a constant quest for improving working practices and achieving successful results, an approach he also applied to his professional engineering tasks. He was extremely versatile in his projects, inventing both photomechanical and photochemical processes. The former include early methods of converting daguerreotype images into printing matrixes, the first successful photolithographic process, and explorations into the fundamentals of the later invented collotype. The latter combined both positives and negatives, on paper, glass, and even ceramics.
With his photolithographic technique of 1855, Poitevin won the much sought after Grand prix du Duc de Luynes in 1867, a contest run by the Societé française de photographie designed to stimulate research into developing a photomechanical process for the photographic illustration of publications. He also won a number of prizes for his non-silver photographic techniques, including a gold medal at the International Exposition in Paris in 1878. He held five patents, and his book “Traité des impressions photographiques” was published twice: the first edition in 1862 and a posthumous second edition in 1883. He published over 80 technical articles in professional journals of photography and printing. Poitevin died on March 4, 1882, in the village of his birth, leaving behind his wife Sophie (née Pequegnot), whom he had married in 1865.
Text by: Martin Jürgens, 2021
See recent publication “Louis Alphonse Poitevin”
Auguste (1862-1954) and Louis (1864-1948) Lumière
The Lumière Autochrome, invented by Auguste (1862-1954) and Louis (1864-1948) Lumière, was the first practical and commercially viable process of color photography. After ten years of research and experimentation, the Lumière firm introduced the first Autochrome plate to the world in 1907. The Brothers Lumière were also the inventors of the Cinémathographe, patented on February 13, 1895. France’s first public film screening, in front of a paying audience, took place on December 28 of the same year.
Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946)
Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) was more than just a photographer: an enormously influential gallerist, he introduced the European avant-garde and their works to the world of contemporary American art. In 1903 he founded the annual magazine Camera Work, which contained critiques and reproductions of avant-garde artists alongside photographs. Matisse, Cézanne, Rodin, and Braque, among others, all exhibited at Galerie 291, founded by Stieglitz and Edward Steichen in 1905.
Ellis Kelsey (1866-1939)
Ellis Kelsey (1866-1939), who had been moonlighting as a photographer since 1889, turned to the Lumière Autochrome as soon as it was released, in 1907. By 1908 he was already able to show eight pieces, his first color photographic work, in exhibition at the Royal Photographic Society in London.
Samuel Gottscho (1875-1971)
The photographs of Samuel Gottscho (1875-1971) expose a particular fondness for architecture, landscape, nature, and countryside living. Despite dabbling in the art since 1896, it was only at the age of fifty that his hobby became a career. His photographs appeared in the pages – and even graced the covers – of American Architect and Architecture, Architectural Record, The New York Times, not to mention numerous home decoration magazines.
Georg Koppmann (1842-1909)
In addition owning a photography business in Hamburg, Georg Koppmann made a name for himself through his work as a photographer in his own right, and especially for the photographs he made of architecture and cityscapes throughout Germany. On behalf of the Hamburgische Baudeputation (Hamburg Building Deputation), he photographically documented the streets and buildings that would have to be cleared for the construction of Speicherstadt from 1883. This work was published in the portfolios “Hamburg 1883 ‘Ansichten aus dem niederzulegenden Stadttheil'”, with 35 albumen prints, and “Hamburg 1884 ‘Ansichten aus dem niederzulegenden Stadttheil'”, consisting of 36 albumen prints.
Rudolph Brandt (1910-1982)
Rudolph Brandt was born on December 4, 1910 in a small Jewish village called Vereski, in the countryside outside of Prague. He was the oldest of five children. He was born Yosef Goldberger, into a prominent rabbinic family. His paternal grandfather, was a renown rabbi, a tzadik. People would come from all across Europe to consult with him, resolve legal disputes, and seek his blessing. His father, also a rabbi, served as a chaplain in the Austro-Hungarian army. His maternal grandfather was a prosperous merchant. He owned a general store which also served as the Royal Hungarian, and later, the Czech custom house. Yosef grew up speaking Hungarian, Czech, and Yiddish. He was fluent in all three languages. He also studied Hebrew as it was assumed that he would follow in the tradition of his family and become a rabbi. As a child, he studied the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud and the teachings of the rabbinic commentators.
Yosef also studied in the gymnasium, where he learned French and German. By 1929,he had left his family home and traveled across Europe, working as a tour guide and translator. Unable to receive a Czech passport without first serving in the Army and following an intention to shed his Jewish identity, in a small cafe near Metro Saint Paul in Paris, Yosef bought a German passport and an identity card. On that day, with the exchange of 300 francs, Rudolph Brandt was born. In 1931, Rudolph traveled from London to Tampico, Mexico. The boat, which carried him to Mexico was designed to carry freight and 30 passengers. It was packed with over 250 Jews from across Europe. The passage took 30 days.
In Mexico, Rudolph taught himself Spanish and became a salesman, traveling throughout the Mexican interior selling shoes, dresses, toothpaste and brushes. After a year, he settled in Mexico City and became a liquor merchant. Throughout his childhood, the United States had a great lure for Rudolph. He heard stories of the great opportunities in America. In late 1932, he illegally crossed into the United States from Laredo, Mexico. He traveled around the United States, living briefly in New York, Los Angeles, and Oklahoma City. Over the next years, an adventurous and restless Brandt, left the United States and traveled through Mexico, South America, and Europe. In 1937, Brandt found himself in Shanghai, where he witnessed the first Sino-Japanese incident. It was in Shanghai that Brandt established himself as a photo-journalist and was hired by United Press International (UPI) to produce a pictorial report of the Sino-Japanese War. There he befriended the Far East Manager of the UPI, John R. Morris, and worked for him for two years, covering the bombings in Shanghai and traveling north toward Peking to photograph the army of General Mao Tse-tung. Next Brandt traveled to Nanking to photograph what became known as “the rape of Nanking” and then returned to Shanghai via Canton. From Shanghai, he traveled to Singapore, where he photographed for “The Straight Times Annual”, and then to Manila, where he pursued advertising and commercial photography. In the early 1940’s, Brandt returned to the United States. He settled in Berkeley, California and landed a job as a photographer with the San Francisco Examiner, working for the manager of the city desk, Josh Eppinger.
With the outbreak of World War 2 on December 7, 1941, Brandt was arrested as a suspected spy and interred for a time at Terminal Island and McNeil Island, where he was detained with Japanese Americans. In 1943, cleared of all charges, Brandt volunteered to serve in the United States Armed Forces. He was assigned to the Army Air Corp and was dispatched to the Pacific theater of operations, where he photographed Japanese naval activities. Brandt completed his military service in 1946 and landed a position in the training section of the United States Veteran’s Administration. Through this work, he became interested in psychology and enrolled in the University of Southern California where he received a Master’s in Psychology. Brandt received a Doctor in Psychology from the University of Ottawa and subsequently studied under Oscar Phister in Switzerland and became a Psychoanalyst. He returned to Los Angeles where he established a successful private practice. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, Brandt was active in psychoanalytic circles. A fellow in numerous professional societies, he directed the Melrose School for Emotionally Disturbed Children, stared in a weekly television show, Dr. Brandt’s Cable Couch, served as a member of the State of California Board of Medical Examiners and as visiting Professor at the University of California. Brandt volunteered for numerous civic organizations.
Though his professional career as a photographer ended with the close of World War 2, he continued to take photographs throughout his life, and maintained a color darkroom in his home in Los Angeles.
Rudolph Brandt was married to Suzanne Brandt, and had two children. He died on January 27, 1982 at the age of 72 . Rudolph is survived by his two children and four grandchildren, including his namesake, granddaughter Rudy Brandt.
See our publication “1937 Japan Attacks China!”
Yoshito Matsushige (1913-2005) was born in Kure, Hiroshima. As a photojournalist, he took five photographs on August 6, 1945, the day of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. At the time of the explosion, Matsushige was at home, 2.7 km south of the hypocentre. He is the only person to have captured an immediate, first-hand photographic account of the bombing. Matsushige dedicated most of the rest of his life to organizing and preserving the photographic history of the atomic bombing of his hometown.
Hiromichi Matsuda (1900-1969) was working as a photographic technician at Kawanami Shipyard when the “Fat Man” atomic bomb hit Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. He took photographs of the mushroom cloud from the rooftop of the shipyard office and from ground level outside about ten minutes after the bombing.
Torahiko Ogawa (1890-1960) was born in Tsukihi, Tokyo. After graduating from the Tokyo Photography Academy, he opened a studio in Nagasaki. At the request of the Nagasaki Prefecture, he photographed the devastated city between August 20 and September 30, 1945, and again in June 1946.
Yosuke Yamahata (1917-1966) worked for the Japanese News and Information Bureau. The day after Nagasaki was destroyed by the atomic bomb, he was assigned to the Bureau’s Army division and sent to the city to document the fallout. Only a few photographs were published before a press ban was imposed. After the ban was lifted in 1952, Yamahata published his photographs in Atomized Nagasaki: The Bombing of Nagasaki – A Photographic Record.
See our publication “X-Ray Japan 1945”
Born in Philadelphia, both sides of his family descended from late nineteenth century Lithuanian immigrants. Edward Wallowitch pursued his talent for photography early and began taking photos when he was just eleven. At the age of eighteen, he was the youngest photographer to be included in “The Family of Man”, Edward Steichen’s legendary exhibition held in 1955 at The Museum of Modern Art, meaning he was the youngest photographer ever to have prints in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Two of them were taken with a Brownie box reflex camera while he was still at high school.
Wallowitch was a close friend of Andy Warhol in the 1950s and 60s in New York. By then he had moved from Philadelphia to Manhattan and had become an integral part of the Greenwich Village bohemia, alongside his brother John, and sister Anna Mae. Wallowitch produced a kind of poetic street photography with strong sensibility, showing a tender eye for both composition and texture. He spent a lot of his time photographing children and teenagers.
Many of Wallowitch’s pictures served as source material for Andy Warhol’s drawings. He died at the age of 48, cause of death unknown.
Margaret Bourke-White was a pioneering figure in 20th century documentary photography and is famous for her scenes of modern industry, of the Great Depression, and of political and social movements in the 1920s through 1950s.
As a founding mother of LIFE (she shot the first cover), she became a world-famous symbol of swashbuckling photography. And that she did it in a male world made her success even more spectacular.
During her unique career, Bourke-White was torpedoed in the Mediterranean, strafed by the Luftwaffe, stranded on an Arctic island, bombarded in Moscow, and pulled out of the Chesapeake when her chopper crashed. She was the first Western photographer to document Soviet industry after the revolution, to create a travelog of Czechoslovakia and other Balkan states just before Hitler moved in to ignite World War II, and to be stationed in Moscow just before Germany bombed its former ally.
Aggressive and relentless in pursuit of pictures, Bourke-White had the knack of being at the right place at the right time. For example, she interviewed and photographed Mohandas K. Gandhi a few hours before his assassination in India. And she was the only American photographer in the Soviet Union in 1941 while the battle for Moscow raged. Alfred Eisenstaedt, her friend and colleague, said she was great because there was no assignment, no picture that was unimportant to her. She was also credited for starting the first photo lab at LIFE.
As an artist, Bourke-White continued to use photography as an instrument to examine social issues from a humanitarian perspective.
She witnessed and documented some of the 20th century’s most notable moments, including the liberation of German concentration camps by General Patton in 1945, the release of Mahatma Gandhi from prison in 1946, and the effects of South African labor exploitation in the 1950s. She was a great and tenacious photographer. Her work was her life, and her life was flamboyantly spectacular. Her career was cut short in 1966 due to Parkinson’s disease, she died in 1971.
Floris Neusüss is a pioneer of photographic art, particularly known for cameraless techniques and photograms. Neusüss is drawn to this particular method of photography because, as he describes, “perspective and horizon are absent from photograms, so the space is theoretically unending.” He thinks of these more like paintings than photographs because he composes his works in a step-by-step process, and also modifies his prints with brushes or rags dipped in chemicals in painterly gestures. Neusüss is perhaps most famous for his full-body photograms, first shown in the 1960s, which resulted in monumentally sized prints. In the 1970s, he made his Nudograms, so named for their nude subjects. Neusüss draws inspiration from the work of Man Ray and László Moholy-Nagy.
Born in Lennep, Germany, in 1937, Neusüss has dedicated his whole career to extending the practice, study and teaching of the photogram. Alongside his work as an artist, he is known as an influential writer and teacher on camera-less photography. Neusüss brought renewed ambition to the photogram process, in both scale and visual treatment, with the Körperfotogramms (or whole-body photograms) that he first exhibited in the 1960s. Since that time, he has consistently explored the photogram‘s numerous technical, conceptual and visual possibilities.
His works often deal in opposites: black and white, shadow and light, movement and stillness, presence and absence, and in the translation of three dimensions into two. By removing objects from their physical context, Neusüss encourages the viewer to contemplate the essence of form. He creates a feeling of surreal detachment, a sense of disengagement from time and the physical world. Collectively, his images explore themes of mythology, history, nature and the subconscious.
Selected recent exhibitions
Leibniz’ Lager. Sammlungswelten in Fotogrammen, ZKM Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, Germany
Traumbilder. Fotografien 1958 bis 1983, June 22 – Oct 14, Münchener Stadtmuseum, Germany
A History of Camera-less Photography, Oct 13, 2010 – March 23, V&A Museum, London, UK
Wunderkammer Museum, Deutsches Museum, Munich, Germany (solo)
Rarely have photographers’ careers been as celebrated and honored as Weegee’s. Equally illustrious and renowned as his pictures was Weegee‘s persona, which heralded him as the world’s most famous photographer. For most of his early career Weegee was unrelenting in capturing New York’s seemingly endless affairs. From the grandiose halls of the Metropolitan Opera House to the unsophisticated sanctuary of Sammy’s Bar, the congregation of inquisitive spectators to the abrupt silence of a gangland murder, Weegee navigated the labyrinth of New York’s streets, documenting its untold life.
For an intense decade between 1935 and 1946, Weegee was one of the most relentlessly inventive figures in American photography. Renowned for his ability to be at the scene before anyone else, he dominated the New York landscape. In his own mind, he was the only individual, a cigar wielding visual narrator, who could tell the story of this restless city.
In late 2012, Ryan Adams, a photojournalist expert, discovered the archive in a Midwest storage facility where it had been housed since its purchase in 1994. The following collaboration with Daniel Blau has resulted not only in the current presentation of vintage Weegee prints but also in the 2015 exhibition of early works by Margaret Bourke-White and the recent museum exhibition: Robert Capa – Kriegsfotografien 1943-1945 at the Kupferstich-Kabinett Dresden. Many of the photographs were exhibited for the first time, or first recognized as works by these famous photographs.
Our researches even brought forward that Weegee was already working as a photographer in 1925. Finally Weegee’s photographs get the attention and fame they deserve in history of photography.
Selected recent exhibitions
Weegee – The Famous, Oct 18, 2018 – Jan 20, 2019, Mai Manó House, Budapest, Hungary
Extra!Weegee, Apr 07 – May 28, Fotografiska, Stockholm, Sweden
Weegee by Weegee, Photographs from the Jean Pigozzi Collection, Sept 05 – Nov 08, The Baker Museum, Naples Florida, USA
Weegee. Murder is My Business, May 02 – July 28, Fondazione Palazzo Magnani, Reggio Emilia, Italy
Weegee. Murder is My Business, Jan 20 – Sept 02, International Center of Photography, New York, USA
Scene of the Crime, Sept 20, 2005 – Jan 22, 2006, Getty Museum, Los Angeles, USA
Extra! Weegee, Hirmer Verlag
The Weegee Guide to New York, Philomena Mariani and Christopher George
Weegee: Murder Is My Business, Brian Wallis and Philomena Mariani
Weegee Täter und Opfer, John Coplan
Naked City, Weegee (Arthur Fellig)
Sofia Valiente received her BFA in Art from Florida International University in Miami in 2012. In 2014, she published her first photo book, Miracle Village, during a residency at Benetton’s Communication Center in Treviso, Italy. Sofia’s work has been published in Time, The Guardian, El Mundo, Vice, American Photo Magazine, and numerous other media outlets. She is represented by the Daniel Blau Gallery in Munich and has been exhibited in London, Paris, and New York City.In 2015, Sofia received the World Press Photo award for Miracle Village (1st prize, portraits, stories) and she is also a recipient of the South Florida Cultural Consortium Artist Fellowship and Burn Magazine’s Young Talent Award.In 2017, she won the Knight Arts Challenge and in 2018 Sofia received the State of Florida Individual Artist grant for Foreverglades. In 2019, Foreverglades the photo book and steamboat replica public art installation was debuted in West Palm Beach, FL.