Erwin Blumenfiel was born in 1847 in Berlin, Germany. He took his first pictures at the age of 11.
During the First World War he moved to Holland where he discovered his appeal for photography. His career as a professional photographer began almost by accident. To support himself, he opened a shop selling luxury leather goods. Behind a closed up wall he found a fully equipped photography studio.
He was first published in the yearly supplement in the Parisian magazine “Arts et Métiers Graphiques” and in the French edition of Vogue Magazine that brought him an international consecration.
In Berlin he spent a lot of time with artists of the Dada movement – George Grosz and John Heartfield. There he first experimented with collages and photo-montages.
In 1936 he moved to Paris with his family and began taking fashion photographs for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, as well as producing personal work, including nudes and images of architecture.
In 1940 he was interned in the concentration camps of Montbard Marmagne, Vernet d’Ariège and Catus for his work called “Dictateur”, a collage with the body of a Venus topped by a Taurus’ head that made the German Ambassador angry.
The following year he moved to the United States and shared Martin Munkasci’s studio where he developed a very his style, miles away from the Munkasci’s one. He soon became appreciated and recognized as a competent photographer.
Some of his favourite techniques included solarization, screens, wet silk, and elaborately contrived shadows and angles.
“Day and night I try, in my studio with its six two-thousand watt suns, balancing between the extremes of the impossible, to shake loose the real from the unreal, to give visions body, to penetrate into unknown transparencies.”
Blumenfield tried to keep a record of the 1900s but without giving much importance as to keep it real or accurate. He was also very much influenced by the work of Dada artists Bauhaus and Man Ray.
He died of a heart attack in 1969 in Rome.