Born to a Jewish family in Munich, Breitenbach worked as a commercial portrait photographer, fleeing to Paris in 1933 when Hitler became chancellor. Influenced by surrealist artists, Breitenbach began experimenting with non- traditional photographic techniques, which he continued in New York after escaping Nazi rule in France in 1941.
Pompier5, 1935 combines Breitenbach’s background in traditional portraiture with a chance encounter of a fireman in the streets of Paris. To the modern-day viewer, this image appears to reflect the oppressive atmosphere of the Second World War, evoking thoughts of gas masks and the alienation of Jewish civilians.
The Radical Eye exhibition at Tate Modern displays Sir Elton John’s private photography collection. These rare photographic prints are taken from the classic Modernist period of the 1920s through to the 1950s and include such famous artists as Alexandr Rodchenko and Man Ray.
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