Aenne Biermann

In her short life, self-taught photographer Aenne Biermann made a profound impact on the arts as a major proponent of “new objectivity,” a rejection of romantic idealism in favor of practical engagement with the world. Aenne Sternfeld married Herbert Joseph Biermann, a textile merchant and arts patron, in 1920. The following year, frustrated by the work of traditional portraitists, she taught herself photography to better capture her growing children. She soon ventured into experimenting with other subjects, producing her most important works between 1926–1932, often working late into the night in her darkroom. She explored the leaves and flowers of plants, the quality of light shining on metal utensils, and even captured the precise structures of minerals for geologist Rudolf Hundt. Her works were part of every major exhibition in Germany at the time, including a one-woman show in Munich and a Stuttgart show of film and photography in 1929, and a 1931 exhibition of new photography in Basel, as well as an international photography exhibition in Brussels in 1931. She died of liver failure, possibly brought on by her exposure to chemicals and her long working hours, in 1933. Due to the rise of Nazism soon after, only four hundred prints remain of the thousands of negatives she created.

Topics: Photography

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Self-portrait of photographer Aenne Biermann, 1928.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Aenne Biermann." (Viewed on May 13, 2021) <>.


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