BERLIN - LONDON:The Lost Photographs of Gerty Simon
The Weiner Library, WC1
30 May - 15 Oct 2019
Gertrud Simon (1887-1970) joins a growing list of notable women photographers working (albeit temporarily) in Germany in the inter-war years. In addition to my long-term favourite Ilse Bing, Florence Henri and Germaine Krull were recently added. Simon was a rather more conventional photographer whose mastery of portrait lighting was exceptional.
The textual material at the Weiner describes Simon's prosperous background, moving in left-wing artistic and intellectual circles in Berlin, where she came to some prominence as a portrait photographer. In 1929, she featured in the touring exhibition of leading photographers, Fotografie der Gagenwart (Contemporary Photography). Seeking refuge in England in 1933 (where her son was already at school), she re-established her portrait practice and was described by the Sunday Times at the time as the, "most brilliant and original of Berlin photographers" (quoted but not cited by the Weiner). Although she lived until 1970, she does not appear to have practiced after the late 1930s and early 1940s: the reason is unclear.
The Weiner exhibition shows around 50 images, some rather inaccessible and with no dedicated lighting. Nevertheless, the strength of the work on show is apparent. In particular, the shadows in the portraits of sculptor Renée Sintenis fig. 1) and of actress Sybil Rares (fig. 2) are exquisite.
Links - Weiner Library