The process of creating a portrait involves much more than the dialogue between the photographer and his model. The visual experience shared by portrait subjects, authors and viewers casts self-presentation and photographic interpretation into pre-existing molds. Yet individuality and spontaneity gained significant ground in the years following the turn of the century, when efforts to escape from dictorial rule in the late 1930s led to even greater concern with individuality. The resulting portraits document the changing image of middle-class society in Germany and Austria, while demonstrating the rise of photography as an independent force. Gradually, the refined salon portraits of such artists as Nikola Perscheid and the Atelier d'Ora gave way to the crystalline elegance of heads and faces by Trude Fleischmann, Lotte Jacobi and Hugo Erfurth. Umbo's extreme close-ups, Helmar Lerski's light-modeling and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy's experiments radically altered the human image in entirely unexpected ways. Containing some 150 portraits by more than 35 photographers, this book offers a splendid survey of portrait photography in Germany and Austria from 1900 to 1938.
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