Gerti Deutsch

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The photographs of Gerti Deutsch are a debut release of  Fotohof edition and for the first time provide an insight into the complete photographic work of Gerti Deutsch.  It runs from artistic portraits dating from the 30s in Vienna through her most creative period as a photojournalist for the English magazine Picture Post, to moving pictures of post-war Vienna as well as projects for books in the 60s which were never realised.

Gerti Deutsch’s life is a mirror image of the past century: born into a bourgeois Jewish family in Vienna, she worked in exile in London as one of a small number of woman photographers for Picture Post, the leading picture magazine of the time to which, in the immediate post-war period, she also contributed features shot in her previous home town of  Vienna. In the late 60s, after a stay in Italy, she returned for a lengthy period to Austria.

The pictures are accompanied by a biography from her daughter Amanda Hopkinson, who is herself a distinguished photo historian and Kurt Kaindl, a specialist in photographic theory who provides introductions to the photographs.

Gerti Deutsch was born in 1908 in Vienna, and grew up the only child of a Jewish Austrian family. Aged 16, she enrolled at the Vienna Academy of Music, to train as a professional pianist. But her dreams were dashed when continual practice gave her pains in her arms. She was diagnosed with neuritis – and it was the end of a career before it got started.

Gerti took up photography, and headed to Paris to make a living. She believed women would be taken more seriously in the French capital. Perhaps she had heard of the likes of Gerda Taro, Robert Capa’s partner, who had left Stuttgart and was forging a career in photo-journalism in France. It was a good time to be a photographer as the pre-war period saw advances in technology, while modern art was influencing content and composition. Magazines  were thirsty for images to fill their pages, and Gerti could not have chosen a more suitable profession: it called on her artistic eye, her interest in current affairs and her belief that she should bear witness to the international political landscape of the late 1930s and 1940s.

In 1937, she held an exhibition in London and a year later took her portfolio to the Picture Post where Tom Hopkinson was editor. He liked Gerti’s pictures, and liked her – the pair married later that year.

Her first assignment saw her use her knowledge of what was happening in Europe. Gerti produced a piece called “Their First Day In England” about the Kindertransport that was bringing Jewish children to safety in Britain and later followed it up with work on other child refugees fleeing the war.

Her range was wide, but she honed in on subjects that were close to her heart. Having trained as a pianist, music figured highly. Gerti shot Yehudi Menuhin and Benjamin Britten, and followed conductors at such classical music centres as Vienna and Salzburg.

She returned to Vienna in 1948 and captured the city under the control of the Allies.

She created a record of Vienna coming to terms with the behaviour of its political class, the loss of its reputation for artistic enlightenment, and the damage to its fabric during the long years of war.

Through the 1940s and 1950s, while living in the Vale of Health, Gerti worked for such publications as Tatler, Queen and Harper’s Bizarre. But when the 1960s began, new kids on the block such as David Bailey brought a youthful zest with mini-skirted King’s Road subjects to the fore. Gerti left London behind and returned to Salzburg. Gerti Deutsch died in 1979 in Leamington Spa, UK.

AppFotohof 001 by Sebastian Albert

Compatible: iPad only
Category: Books
Updated: August 05, 2011
Publisher: Sebastian Albert © Fotohof edition Salzburg,
Sebastian Albert and the lenders and authors
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