A seminal figure in the history of performance art, Eleanor Antin is one of the most prolific artists of the last three decades, moving freely in many forms of media, including live and installation art, independent film, photography, video, drawing, painting and writing.
Diane Arbus changed how the world looks at photographs and how photographs look at the world. Best known for her pictures of “freaks” and eccentrics such as “The Jungle Creep,” “The Marked Man,” and nudists, she also changed the world of children’s fashion photography and celebrity photography.
Eve Arnold was a groundbreaking photographer and writer, known for photographing fashion in Harlem, the McCarthy hearings, the civil rights movement, and Marilyn Monroe, as well as life in China, England, and the Soviet Union. Arnold was the first American woman accepted into Magnum Photos and is credited with making a remarkable artistic contribution to twentieth-century photography.
By focusing on Jewish women artists working in Britain today, whose Jewishness and gender are central to their artistic output, it offered valuable insights into the diverse ways in which women perceive their Jewishness in contemporary Britain. Aware of their complex “otherness” as women, Jews and artists, they put that awareness to good creative use; and in so doing, proved that art has a crucial role to play in exploring—and perhaps crystallizing—issues of identity.
The 1970s were a conceptual and political period in Israeli art. Art during these years expressed the plural form—of the nation, the society and of modern art.
The life of Ellen (Rosenberg) Auerbach was a constant journey of self-discovery and, in her photographic work, a search for the essence that lies behind people and things. Her curious mind, her keen and intuitive eye and her sense of humor permeated her photography, which was re-discovered in the late 1970s, along with that of other avant-garde photographers and artists of the Weimar Republic. Auerbach belonged to the generation of New Women who sought to break with traditional female roles and become independent through their work.
Photographer and photojournalist Eva Besnyö was born in Budapest in 1910. In the 1930s Besnyö moved to Berlin, where she quickly became successful with numerous exhibitions and commissions and spent time with politically engaged intellectuals and artists. Following the war, Besnyö was active in the Dolle-Mina feminist movement and was awarded the Dr. Erich Salomon Award for her life’s work.
Aenne Biermann was a photographer whose photographs appeared in international art and photography magazines.
Ilse Bing’s legacy is her photographs. She was an artist who seized the moment and is recognized as a pioneer in the birth of modern photography.
Brazil is home to the second largest Jewish community in South America. Jewish women played important roles in the absorption of Jewish immigrants from Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, and also made important contributions to Brazilian intellectual and artistic life.
Marianne Breslauer was known for her style of quiet, poetic street scenes of Paris and Berlin and her photographs of Palestine in 1931. Breslauer studied at the Lette-Verein, the first school for women photographers, and was awarded the Hann Höch Prize in Berlin in 1999.
Photojournalist Lotte Errell worked tirelessly to make her adventurous travels in Africa, China, and the Middle East accessible to her readers at home in Germany and beyond. Her success illustrates how photography and travel journalism provided women with new possibilities for independence and careers. Errell traveled the world throughout the 1930s taking photos and writing essays, but she was interrupted in the 1940s by the war.
Trude Fleischmann opened her studio at age 25, worked as a successful independent photographer through the Depression, and photographed some of the great artists, thinkers, and activists of her day, including Max Reinhardt, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Albert Einstein. Fleischmann regarded photography as a craft rather than an art, an attitude which also helped open the field to women.
With these words she described the extraordinary life and work of Gisèle Freund, European intellectual and writer, sociologist, historian of photography, a socialist, a Jew, and one of the world’s greatest photographers.
In the years between 1914 and 1933, numerous significant personalities in art, culture, politics, society and sport met in the photographic portraiture studio of Nini and Carry Hess. With their technical and aesthetic brilliance, the sisters were among the leading photographers in Germany of the time.
After leaving Nazi Germany in 1935, Lotte Jacobi became a renowned photographer in New York as she captured intimate portraits of prominent Americans such as Robert Frost, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Paul Robeson. Jacobi was highly interested in politics and an active delegate to the Democratic National Convention. She was known for engaging her subjects in rich conversation as she photographed them.
For decades, Annie Leibovitz and her camera have exposed to the public eye subtleties of character in rock stars, politicians, actors, and literary figures that lay beneath their celebrity personae. Her work first fueled the American fascination with rock ’n’ roll dissidents in the 1970s and then, in the 1980s and 1990s, captured the essence of the day’s great cultural icons. Her photographs make plain that, as Leibovitz herself once put it, she was not afraid to fall in love with her subjects. Anna-Lou Leibovitz was born on October 2, 1949, in Westbury, Connecticut. She was the third of six children to Marilyn Leibovitz, a modern dance instructor, and Sam Leibovitz, an air force lieutenant colonel. As the daughter of a career military officer, Leibovitz moved with her family frequently from town to town. The constant relocation fostered strong ties among the six Leibovitz children.
Madame d’Ora’s vibrant portraits of twentieth-century artists and intellectuals remain important testaments to European cultural life at the turn of the century and beyond. D’Ora was the first woman accepted by the Association of Austrian photographers, and one of the first photographers to focus on modern dance and fashion. She paved the way for many Jewish female photographers to find success.
There is no simple way to categorize Jewish American women photographers—they are too diverse a group. They come from distinctly different political periods, economic strata, and even cultures (some were born abroad). They share neither mind-set nor style, their subjects and interests vary widely, and their worldview and art seem to have little to do with their Jewish identity.
Photography was the primary method used to document the Zionist enterprise in Palestine and photographers assumed the responsibility of creating and expressing its history.
From Ethiopia to Yemen, India and Israel, Joan Roth’s remarkable life and photographic odyssey is a celebration of the strength and diversity of Jewish women around the world.
Rachel Salamander is a well-known personality in Munich, where she established a prominent bookshop, the Literaturhandlung, in 1982. This bookshop specializes in Jewish literature and has one of the largest collections of books in Germany about Judaism.
The first woman in Austria to become a career photojournalist and travel writer, and the first and only female member of the Austrian Kriegspressedienst (war information unit) during World War I, Alice Schalek paved the way for careers in both photography and journalism for other women.
Although not trained as an anthropologist, Marjorie Shostak authored an anthropological classic, the internationally acclaimed Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman, the life history of a woman of the !Kung San (or Bushmen) people of Africa’s Kalahari Desert.