Blumenfeld @ Somerset House


In 1923 Erwin Blumenfeld opened a leather goods store in Amsterdam. It specialised in ladies handbags and the business went bankrupt in 1935. He had started off his working career as an apprentice dressmaker and would go on to become one of the highest paid and most sought after fashion photographers of the 20th century.

True to form Somerset House has succeeded in hosting a spectacular display of yet another exhibition focusing on fashion and photography. Blumenfeld’s work is perfect viewing during a languid summer’s day in which the home of London Fashion Week is taking a break from the runway. The show centres on Blumenfeld’s photography studio at 222 Central Park South, New York and is filled with more than 100 colour photographs spanning the photographer’s 35 year long career.

Blumenfeld had an eye for colour. His compositions draw you in, and they drew in the fashion community too. Blumenfeld shot countless covers for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar which are shown with original copies on display, as well as celebrities such as Grace Kelly. He would ask his models if they would marry him before photographing them in order to soften their faces and there is often a lightheartedness in his images which is lacking in today’s more stern and serious fashion editorial.

As always, Somerset House is triumphant in giving us an education into the work of another great fashion photographer. Running until the end of Summer, this simply can’t be missed!

Blumenfeld Studio: New York, 1941-1960 is on display at Somerset House until 1 September 2013

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier aka Gallery Girl is a writer and curator based in London. Her work has been featured in publications including Dazed, Hyperallergic and Vogue Arabia. She was curator of Perpetual Movement during AWAN Festival 2018 and in 2019 had a residency at the Lab at Darat Al Funun in Amman, Jordan. She has also worked with Armenia Art Fair for its inaugural edition and previously worked as an editor at I.B.Tauris Publishers. In 2019 she co-founded Arsheef, Yemen’s first contemporary art gallery. She has given workshops at Manara Culture in Amman, Jordan and Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK. As of 2020 she is currently in law school, with the ambition of greater understanding the intersection between art and the law.

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