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HomeContentsOnline exhibitions > John Gutmann (1905-1998)

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John Gutmann

A successful painter and teacher in Berlin, John Gutmann moved to the United States in 1933 shortly after the Nazis forbade him to exhibit his art or to teach because he was Jewish. One month before he left Germany, he purchased a Rolliflex camera, read the instruction manual, made three rolls of test shots, and obtained a contract from the photo agency Presse-Foto to send pictures back to Germany.
Gutmann settled in San Francisco. By 1934, he had examined the California coast from San Francisco to Vancouver. Then, from 1936-1937, he took an extended bus tour of the United States, stopping for four months in New York. While in New York, he ended his contract with Presse-Foto and began to work for Pix, Inc.
"Gutmannís record of the American thirties are genial moments of pleasure lived at full throttle. They may have about them a distinction of jazzy rhythm or a tingle of the flesh," wrote photographic scholar Max Kozloff. His pictures appeared in both European and American periodicals, including the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, Coronet, LIFE, LOOK, The Saturday Evening Post, and U.S. Camera Annual.
In 1938, he was appointed Professor of Art at San Francisco State College, now San Francisco State University. From 1942 to 1945, after studying at the Signal Corps Motion Picture School near New York, Gutmann was stationed at Camp Roberts in California, making both photographs and motion pictures for the Army.
During and after the war he focused his attention on China, and other parts of Asia. Photographs from these stories were published in National Geographic, Asia, and other periodicals. After his retirement from teaching in 1973, Guttmann continued to photograph and to exhibit his work until his death in 1998.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston extends a very special thanks to the companies, organizations, and individuals whose generosity made possible the acquisition of the Gutmann works shown here - the Mundy Companies, Photo Forum at the MFAH, Manfred Heiting, and Gutmann himself, who made a generous gift to the MFAH prior to his death.
© Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2006) 



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