Exile Photography

Jewish Artists’ Work Finds New Home

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    An exhibition shows work by Gerti Deutsch and Jeanne Mandello for the first time, exhibiting the Jewish artists’ photographs shaped by their lives as refugees and the loss of their homeland.

  • Facts


    • Gerti Deutsch was born in Austria in 1908 and worked as a photo journalist, shooting portraits, street scenes and reportages.
    • Jeanne Mandello, born in 1907, was an experimental photographer who shot portraits, landscapes and scenes of daily life inspired by Man Ray and the nouvelle vision.
    • The Hidden Museum shows the women’s photographs in an exhibition called “The Fate of Emigration.”
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deutsch_gerti_piloten-fuer-festivalbuehne_1950_bodensee Gerti Deutsch, Piloten für eine Festivalbühne, Bodensee 1950, Gerti Deutsch FOTOHOF archiv und gettyimages
After a long time underground, Gerti Deutsch's photography is on show at Berlin's Hidden Museum. Source: Gerti Deutsch, FOTOHOF archiv und gettyimages

Photographer Gerti Deutsch was 28 when she fled her home town Vienna in 1936 and relocated to buzzing London, joining a wave of Jewish migrants from the European continent, all looking for a safer future on the British island.

Ms. Deutsch left the Austrian capital two years before the country’s annexation by Nazi Germany, but Austria’s fascist government had already cracked down on artistic freedom before then.

Propagating romanticized images that glorified the Austrian homeland, it prevented Ms. Deutsch from publishing her realistic photography in which she depicted the everyday life of regular Austrians.

Ms. Deutsch’s pictures, many of which survived her time in exile, are now on display at a small Berlin art museum, in a sign of Germany’s long transition from the Nazis’ mass killings of more than six million people, most of them Jews, to a liberal democracy that openly grapples with its dark past.

The exhibition titled “The Fate of Emigration” at Berlin’s Hidden Museum, Das Verborgene Museum, also features the work of another Jewish artist, Jeanne Mandello.

Ms. Mandello, born in what is now Germany’s financial capital Frankfurt in 1907, moved to Berlin at the age of 19 to study photography. In 1929, she opened her own studio in Frankfurt but the rise of the Nazis and growing anti-Semitic hostility prompted her to flee to Paris in 1934, where she rose to fame as a fashion photographer, shooting for couture houses such as Balanciaga and Chanel.

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