|Product Details |
Thames & Hudson
Although Erwin Blumenfeld would no doubt have emphatically denied it, his autobiography might be seen as an example of the trajectory of an artistic life brutally fashioned by the vicissitudes of 20th-century European history. Born in 1896 into a bourgeois Berlin Jewish family, he served in the German army during World War I, was linked to the Berlin dada coterie, and was interned in France in World War II, all before finally immigrating to America and finding eventual acclaim as one of this century's great photographers. Such a bald summary actually does this book a disservice. Avoiding the self-justifications and stage-managed chronologies of the typical autobiography, Blumenfeld's story is a witty and linguistically exuberant delight, abounding in puns and narrative passages that rival the work of many professional writers.
Eye to I is merciless in its treatment of the author himself--chance and accident guide Blumenfeld far more than heroics or judgment, to which his account of the series of brutal internments in French concentration camps attests. But then again, it is precisely this attitude that helps him survive: the 20th century was not made for the rational, and Blumenfeld's irony and ridicule is perversely a mark of the utmost sanity. Berlin dada, only fleetingly mentioned, must have helped hone these weapons--the only ones that an artist like him could wield. Blumenfeld proved himself as quirky and original a prose writer as he was a photographer; this beautifully translated book with its too-brief selection of extraordinary images (including an astonishing 1933 photomontage of Hitler) is a marvelous testament to a life and to art vigorously and joyously made. --Burhan Tufail, Amazon.co.uk