Image via Wikipedia
While conducting an inventory of the AGO‘s Eisenstaedt prints the other day, I was reminded about how much I enjoy his photography and the influence he had in American popular culture through his iconic Life Magazine images. The first time I really began to appreciate Eisenstaedt’s body of work was at the AGO’s Ansel Adams/ Alfred Eisenstaedt show, held in 2006-2007. Although I was quite familiar with Adams’ images (really who isn’t?), I had only a passing knowledge of Eisenstaedt’s. The exhibition brought out some excellent prints such as his work in the Alpine retreat St. Moritz in the early 1930s, as well as other interesting examples of his inter-war photographs of life in Germany during the 1930s – a foreshadowed period of European history.
Alfred Eisenstaedt was born in Germany in 1898, and moved to Berlin with his family in 1906, and served in the military during WWI where he was injured. Shortly after he became a photojournalist and by 1929 he had enough success to become a full-time photographer. He captured key events in Germany during the early 1930s, including a meeting between Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini in Italy, 1933. By 1935, Germany had become a hostile place for the jewish photographer, and like many other in the arts communities of Germany, Eisenstaedt emigrated to the United States, settling in New York. He became part of an artistic community of immigrants from Eastern Europe that escaped from the growing hostility in Germany to the United States. From 1936 to 1972, Eisenstaedt worked as a photographer for Life magazine. His photos of news events and celebrities, such as Dagmar, Sophia Loren and Ernest Hemingway, appeared on 90 Life covers.
The Art Gallery of Ontario has an extensive collection of Eisenstaedt prints, spanning a broad section of his career. Here are some iconic images sourced from the incredible Google Life Archive that I still enjoy, even after seeing them so many times!
From the St. Moritz series in 1932:
In August, 1945, Eisenstaedt created his most famous photograph, what would become an iconic American image, an American sailor kissing a young woman in Times Square upon his return from the war. I found the frame sequence for this famous image at the Google Life Photo Archive, a great resource for American cultural history.
- A Soldier’s kiss (joanafaria.wordpress.com)
- History: VJ Day in Times Square (americanthings.wordpress.com)