Remembering photographer Josef Breitenbach

Cover photo for Josef Breitenbach Photographien,  titled "Dr.Riegler and J.Greno" (Riegler was Breitenbach's best friend)
Cover photo for Josef Breitenbach Photographien,
titled "Dr.Riegler and J.Greno"
(Riegler was Breitenbach's best friend)

April 3, 2016 /Photography News/ Josef Breitenbach was born 120 years ago, on 3 April 1896, in Munich, Germany into a middle-class family of Jewish descent. 

Breitenbach began taking photographs while working in the family wine merchant business. Proving less than successful at the latter, he opened his first photographic studio in 1932 which was closed one year later, after Hitler took power. 

Breitenbach was forced to flee to Paris in 1933 where he opened a new studio. He became friends with Andre Breton, yet never truly joined the Surrealist group of his peers. However, he did show his photographs alongside such luminaries as Man Ray, Cartier-Bresson, and Brassa├». During the six years he lived in Paris, he experimented with many newer photographic techniques, mainly superimpression. Most notably, he was one of the first photographers to produce work in color. 

After World War II broke out, he worked  in the civilian corps until he could find passage to America in 1941, where he worked for the American press and taught at several schools. Through the 50s and 60s he did reportage in Asia for the United Nations and other varied businesses. He exhibited extensively in Europe in the 1930s and in the United States from the 40s to the mid-60s, including the Musuem of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Josef Breitenbach died October 7, 1984 in New York.


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