• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2106

    Photographs

    14 October 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 295

    ERWIN BLUMENFELD (1897-1969)

    Nude in the Mirror, Paris, 1938

    Price Realised  

    ERWIN BLUMENFELD (1897-1969)
    Nude in the Mirror, Paris, 1938
    gelatin silver print
    authenticated by Marina Schinz in ink and Estate credit stamp (on the verso)
    11¾ x 9½in. (29.8 x 24.1cm.)


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    Erwin Blumenfeld did not date or sign his photographs.

    Provenance

    From the artist;
    to the present owner


    Pre-Lot Text

    A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTOR


    'Woman is the being who throws the biggest shadow or the greatest light in our dreams.' (Charles Baudelaire)


    While Erwin Blumenfeld is perhaps best-known for his elegant and original fashion studies for Harper's Bazaar and American Vogue in the 1940s and 1950s, he was already an accomplished and innovative photographer by the time he left Paris for New York at the outset of the Second World War.
    Blumenfeld's Paris work was characterized by the fashion studies he produced for Vogue, under the supervision of Cecil Beaton, and a far more private portfolio, exemplified by the extraordinary Nude in the Mirror, 1936. Like his avant-garde contemporaries, Blumenfeld was searching for a new visual vocabulary and experimented with perspective and formal arrangement in order to make something unexpected from the otherwise mundane. Here, Blumenfeld artfully positions his mirror to present his sitter both in full-frontal and profile poses.
    The transformation of the female nude into the 'Eternal Feminine' was an enduring and very personal obsession. In Blumenfeld's hands, the Nude in the Mirror becomes an inaccessible earth goddess, her naked, 'insolent beauty' emphasized by another recurring motif in his work, the transparent veil.
    Blumenfeld's real legacy lies in complex images such as Nude in the Mirror, rather than the better-known fashion spreads for Paris Vogue and subsequent American 'glossies', as superbly inventive as they all were. It was not without reason that Cecil Beaton considered Blumenfeld the ultimate 'darkroom magician'.

    Prints from this period are extremely rare.


    Literature

    Blumenfeld: My One Hundred Best Photos, A. Zwemmer Ltd., 1981, pl. 77, p. 114; Ewing and Schinz, A Fetish for Beauty: Blumenfeld, Thames and Hudson, 1996, p. 72