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August 15, 2017

Grete Stern: The Lady of Dreams’ Photo-Collages

It is no news that women have historically found it harder to develop themselves as professionals in diverse male-dominated work environments. This is even truer in the case of female artists in the 1930s: Stern had to struggle against all imaginable and unimaginable odds, in order to become one of the pioneers of modern photography in Argentina and a referent of protest art in the world.

When German artist Grete Stern and Argentine photographer Horacio Coppola met at the Bauhaus in Berlin in 1932, Coppola had already made incursions into photography and film while Stern had done the same with typography and graphic design experiments. They became a well-known couple within the intellectual scene of Berlin, but when the Nazi party began to gain power, they departed for London, where they married, and later arrived in Argentina.

Intellectual and literary circles in Buenos Aires celebrated their unique visions, and their first exhibition, in 1935, at the editorial office of the magazine Sur, was heralded as the arrival of modernism in Argentina. A current exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, presents their work separately, in keeping with their different practices and careers, but highlights instances of overlap: their collaboration on several books, and their experimental, if short-lived, graphic design and photography studio.

After the couple divorced in 1943, Coppola abandoned photography, while Stern continued to make photographs for several decades and surrounded herself with contemporary artists.



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