The New Objectivity of Aenne Biermann

Day 305 of Colourisation Project – March 8

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

Self-taught German photographer, Aenne Biermann’s life was cut short by liver disease at the age of 35. But if that hadn’t got her, the Nazis would have. Members of her family were not so lucky.

Born in Germany of Ashkenazi origin, on this day, March 8, 1898, she was one of the major proponents of the Bauhaus/ New Objectivity aesthetic, a significant art movement that came to prominence in Weimar Germany in the 1920s as a counter to the Expressionist movement.

Self Portrait ~ Aenne Biermann 1931 ~ Coloured by Loredana Crupi

Though Biermann’s career was cut short when she was nearing her peak, she produced a small body of work shot mainly between 1925 and 1933, which was published in international photography journals and exhibited in multiple galleries; including the landmark 1929 Film und Foto in Stuttgart, the 1930 Die Neue Fotografie in Basel, and two one-woman retrospectives in her native Germany.

She was only 32 years old when Franz Roh, a German historian, photographer and art critic published a book of her photographs, 60 Fotos, now a collector’s item. By the late 1920s, Biermann’s work was achieving internationally acclaim. Exemplifying the New Objectivity aesthetic, her subjects included photos of minerals, crystals and close-ups of flowers and plants focusing on their “partially architectonic structure.”

Two weeks before the Nazis took power in 1933, Aenne Biermann died of liver failure in Gera. The new Nazi regime looked upon the New Objectivity as a “degenerate art” form and went nuts seizing and destroying many works and preventing artists from exhibiting. Even after her death, the Nazis confiscated a significant portion of her photographs from her husband. Unfortunately of the three thousand or so negatives she ever made, approximately four hundred survive.

In recognition of her work, the Museum of Gera holds an annual contest for the Aenne Biermann Prize for Contemporary German Photography. Operating since 1992 it has become one of the most important events of its kind in Germany.


“I realized ever more clearly that the lighting was of critical importance for the clarity of the work. … The effect of light on the polished surface of a metal utensil, a play of shadows seldom noticed, surprising contrasts of black and white, the problem of achieving a happy spatial arrangement in a picture, created inexhaustible surprises.”   ~   Aenne Biermann

This entry was posted in Colorization, Colourisation, Germany, Photography, Women, Women Photographers and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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