Germaine KRULL: A Photographer’s Journey

Portrait de Germaine Krull, Berlin, 1922. Hans Basler
Tirage gélatino–argentique, 15,9 x 22 cm.
Museum Folkwang, Essen. © Estate Germaine Krull, Museum Folkwang, Essen

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Until 27th September 2015 at the Jeu de Paume gallery

LThe Jeu de Paume gallery pays a splendid tribute to German photographer Germaine Krull (1897-1985). While the work of her contemporaries, Man Ray, Moholy-Nagy and Kertész, has widely been exposed, the free spirited, politically engaged woman photographer has long remained in the shadow. This is probably due to the fact that Krull has only been active in Europe – mainly in Paris – for twenty years, from 1920 to 1940. She then spent the last forty years of her life in Asia, which gradually deteriorated her links to the photography community.
 

Reportages and magazines

Germaine Krull, 'Rue Auber à Paris', 1928. Tirage gélatino- argentique. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Thomas Walther Collection. Gift of David H. McAlpin, by exchange. © Estate Germaine Krull, Museum Folkwang, Essen.

Germaine Krull, ‘Rue Auber à Paris’, 1928. Tirage gélatino- argentique.
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Thomas Walther Collection. Gift of David H. McAlpin, by exchange. © Estate Germaine Krull, Museum Folkwang, Essen.

« The real photographer is the witness of every day life, it’s the reporter »

 

In 1928 she published “Metal”, a portfolio of 64 pages displaying cranes, metal bridges and striking views of the Eiffel Tower, often taken in low-angle shots. She consequently accessed the world of modernist photography. The Director of VU magazine, Lucien Vogel, noticed her talent immediately, inviting Krull to join his team in the same year.

 

Autoportrait à l'Icarette, 1925. © Estate Germaine Krull, Museum Folkwang, Essen. Photo : © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / image Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI

Autoportrait à l’Icarette, 1925. © Estate Germaine Krull, Museum Folkwang, Essen. Photo : © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / image Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI

Germaine Krull emerged as a pioneer of photojournalism; her personal and spontaneous approach seduced a large audience. Thanks to her Icarette camera, 6 x 9 cm, enabling greater proximity to the subject, she realised atypical and intuitive pictures. Her favorite subject was Parisian popular culture, such as flea markets, carnivals or bar scenes. Between 1928 and 1934 she published more than 600 photographs in newspapers and magazines like Living Art and Jazz.

 

 

On the road

Cars, speed and machines fascinated Krull, and in Paris she frantically photographed the teeming traffic. After working on an advertising campaign for the Peugeot 201 she developed a strong interest for road trips and asked for one of the vehicles as payment. Whilst driving in that car, she developed some important photographic books including The Road Paris-Biarritz (1931) and The Road from Paris to the Mediterranean (1931). Travels and encounters were for Krull an inexhaustible source of inspiration.

 

Women

Colette by Germaine Krull

Colette by Germaine Krull

 

As a woman photographer, Krull took an interest in women artists such as the writer Colette, the singer Damia or Berthe Bovy who featured in La voix humaine by Jean Cocteau; they were models for many inspired photographs.

In 1930, she published an important portfolio on female nudes. Thanks to her particular framing and set-up of original scenes, she reinvented nude photography and developed a true aesthetic manifesto, carrying great evocative power.

Germaine Krull, 'Nus'. Tirage gélatino-argentique. Collection Dietmar Siegert. © Estate Germaine Krull, Museum Folkwang, Essen

Germaine Krull, ‘Nus’. Tirage gélatino-argentique.
Collection Dietmar Siegert.
© Estate Germaine Krull, Museum Folkwang, Essen

 

The Jeu de Paume exhibition presents the portrait of an icon of avant-garde photography. Germaine Krull was a true adventurer, who generously shared her poetic yet engaged vision of the surrounding world.

A beautiful exhibition!

Jeu de Paume

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