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Josef Breitenbach

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Josef Breitenbach

American, (1896–1984)
Josef Breitenbach was a German artist best known for his experimental photography. In his work, the artist played with a number of techniques, including bleaching, color printing, montage, solarization, and double exposure, to explore the ways in which light and color could alter an image. For example, in his work Shiela, the artist used overexposure to enhance the contrast between his model’s pale skin and dark hair. Born on April 3, 1896 in Munich, Germany to a wine merchant family of Jewish descent, he went on to study philosophy and art history at the Ludwig-Maximillian University in Munich. After completing his education, he began photographing for the Social Democratic Party in Bavaria after World War I. Breitenbach fled Germany during the Nazi’s rise to power due to his political allegiances and Jewish heritage in August of 1933, after nearly being arrested by the Strurmabteilung (SA). After living in Paris for six years, he immigrated to New York, where he was included in Edward Steichen’s 1955 exhibition “The Family of Man” at The Museum of Modern Art. Breitenbach died on October 7, 1984 in New York, NY.


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