Photographer of Modernity
- Finalist for the 2000 Kraszna-Krausz Book Award.
An in depth look at a master of twentieth-century photography.
Germaine Krull (1897-1985) led an extraordinary life that spanned nine decades and four continents. She witnessed many of the high points of modernism and recorded some of the major upheavals of the twentieth century. Her photographs include avant-garde montages, ironic studies of female nudes, press propaganda shots, as well as some of the most successful commercial and fashion images of her day. Her political commitments led her from communist allegiance to incarceration in Russia as a counterrevolutionary to support of the Free French cause against Hitler to a reclusive existence among Tibetan monks in India. Kim Sichel's study of this remarkable artist reveals a life of deep convictions, implausible transformations, complex emotional relationships, and inspired achievements.
Krull refused to limit herself to one long-term relationship, one geographical region, or one set of religious and moral beliefs. Contemporary critics ranked her with Man Ray and André Kertesz. Younger photographers such as Berenice Abbott looked up to her. Yet until recently the absence of an archive has made a proper evaluation of Krull's contribution to photography and to modernism difficult if not impossible. In this book Sichel examines Krull's autobiographical texts and photographic oeuvre to present and unravel the rich mythology that Krull fabricated around her life and work. The chapters follow the geographical and chronological sequence of Krull's life, moving from Munich to Moscow to Berlin to Amsterdam to Paris to Brazil to Africa to Bangkok and other locations. This book, which accompanies the first major retrospective exhibition on Krull, should secure Krull's rightful place among the masters of twentieth-century photography.
October 1999 - December 1999
Haus der Kunst
December 1999 - February 2000
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco, California
March - June 2000
Rotterdam, the Netherlands
August - September 2000
November - December 2000
Kim Sichel's admirable study fills a gap in our knowledge of the first generation of modernist women photographers. By showing how Krull's wide-ranging career touches on the significant aesthetic, political, and—unexpectedly—spiritual movements of the century now drawing to a close, this impressive rediscovery of a little-known figure illuminates the historic and social circumstances to which she bore witness.
Carolyn Burke, the author of Becoming Modern: The Life of Mina Loy
Germaine Krull has long been known to specialists as one of the key figures of the European photographic avant-garde of the 1920s-30s. In Kim Sichel's richly detailed critical biography, Krull emerges as a forceful, unconventional personality, whose tumultuous life mirrors the cultural and political upheavals of her eopch.
Christopher Phillips, Senior Editor, Art in America