Fred Stein, German American photographer represented by Lebrecht Music & Arts, has his first major German retrospective exhibition opening in Berlin at the Jewish Museum on 22nd November. He fled Germany in 1933 and became an outstanding photographer of street scenes and famous people in Paris of the 1930s and New York from the 1940s onwards.
Fred Stein was born in Dresden in 1909, and had intended to become a lawyer after studying law in Leipzig. He only became a professional photographer after fleeing the Nazis. Luckily his hobby was photography, and during his legal traineeship he used a 35 mm Leica camera, which he and his wife had bought themselves as a wedding gift.
As the Nazis became more powerful, Stein became an outcast in two senses: as a Jew and as a politically active socialist. In October 1933, he and his wife, Liselotte, managed to reach Paris under the pretext of a honeymoon trip. They had no plans to return to Germany.
Fountain, Paris, 1935. CLICK HERE for more Paris images.
Once in France, Stein found himself in an unknown land with a strange language. Since he couldn’t find work as a lawyer he was compelled to find another career. His choice: photography. Although he was really little more than a dedicated amateur, it wasn’t long before he started a business and opened Studio Fred Stein in a small apartment whose bathroom doubled as a darkroom.
Stein discovered Paris through the camera lens. The same thing would happen later in New York, where he, his wife and their young daughter fled in 1941, and where he died in 1967. In both places, he captured everyday scenes full of odd and subtly melancholy moments.
Parade, New York, 1946. CLICK HERE for more New York images.
In New York, he also worked with a medium-format Rolleiflex camera. He photographed politicians and writers, musicians, thinkers and artists, including Salvador Dalí, Marc Chagall, Willem de Kooning, Hannah Arendt, Andre Kertesz, Otto Dix, Hermann Hesse, Albert Einstein, Indira Ghandi, Arthur Koestler, S J Perelman, Langston Hughes, David Ben-Gurion, André Gide, Anais Nin, Dr Benjamin Spock, Moss Hart, Fidel Castro, Dorothy Parker, Adlai Stevenson, Georgia O’Keefe and Walter Gropius.
To read more about the exhibition, click here.
Hannah Arendt in 1944. American- German political theorist (14 October 1906 – 4 December 1975). CLICK HERE for more Fred Stein images.