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August 2, 2022

25 Gorgeous Portraits of 1930s Tomboys Taken by Pioneering Female Photographer Marianne Breslauer

Marianne Breslauer (20 November 1909 – 7 February 2001) was a German photographer, photojournalist and pioneer of street photography. She belonged to a generation of women photographers who managed to take advantage of the freedom afforded them by the Weimar Republic. Her work is a notable example of the “new photography”.

Marianne Breslauer

Marianne’s career as a photographer was a very short one and she left behind only a small photographic body of work, created in between 1928 and 1938. In 1929 she traveled to Paris, where she briefly became a pupil of Man Ray. A year later she started work for the Ullstein photo studio in Berlin, headed up by Elsbeth Heddenhausen, where she mastered the skills of developing photos in the dark-room. Until 1934 her photos were published in many leading magazines.

In the early 1930s, Breslauer traveled to Palestine and Alexandria, before traveling with her close friend, the Swiss writer, journalist, and photographer Annemarie Schwarzenbach, whom she met through Ruth Landshoff and whom she photographed many times. She described Schwarzenbach as: “Neither a woman nor a man, but an angel, an archangel.” In 1933 they traveled together to the Pyrenees to carry out a photographic assignment for the Berlin photographic agency Academia. This led to Marianne's confrontation with the anti-Semitic practices then coming into play in Germany.

Annemarie Schwarzenbach

Her employers wanted to continue publishing her avant-garde photos, but under a pseudonym to hide her Jewish background. Refusing to yield and publish her work under a false name, Marianne fled Germany and found safety in Switzerland as the Second World War broke out. It was around this time that she admitted she was “finished with photography”. After the war, she became an art dealer with her husband, specializing in French paintings and 19th-century art.

Marianne’s subjects are alluringly liberated and ahead of their time, reflected in their “borrowed-from-the-boys” wardrobe of soft slouchy trousers, button-down shirts and cropped hairstyles. Even in a long evening dress, they have a sullen masculine air with the beauty and grace of a swan.

Ruth von Morgen, Berlin, 1934

Lisa von Cramm, Berlin, 1934

Mannequins, Berlin, 1932

Annemarie Schwarzenbach and her Mercedes, Berlin, 1932

Zirkus-Junge, 1932

Annemarie Schwarzenbach

Annemarie Schwarzenbach with her car and a shepherd in the Pyrenees, 1933

Annemarie Schwarzenbach, Berlin, 1932

Annemarie Schwarzenbach

Annemarie Schwarzenbach with a friend in Potsdam, 1934

Ruth von Morgen

Annemarie Schwarzenbach

Annemarie Schwarzenbach, Picnic, 1930

Working girl at her leisure, Berlin, 1933

Jutta Zambona-Remarque

Annemarie Schwarzenbach, 1933

Photo by Marianne Breslauer

Annemarie Schwarzenbach with her dog, 1932

Annemarie Schwarzenbach crossing the Eiffel Bridge over the Onyar river, Girona, 1933

Ruth von Morgen, Berlin, 1934

Annemarie Schwarzenbach, Zürich, 1934

Marianne Breslauer, ca.1933. (Photo by Erwin Blumenfeld)

With the ethnologist Ella Magyar, Sweden, 1939

(via Messy Nessy, Museu Nacional)




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