Lot Details

image 10.5 x 10.25 inches
paper 14 x 11 inches
Portrait of Edward Albee.
From a portfolio published in 1980.

Hans Namuth (March 17, 1915 – October 13, 1990) was a German-born American photographer. Namuth specialized in portraiture, focusing mainly on artists, most famously Jackson Pollock. His photographs and film of Pollock at work in his studio increased Pollock's fame and recognition and led to a greater understanding of his work and techniques. Namuth photographed many other painters, including Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, Barnett Newman, Joseph Cornell, Louise Nevelson, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, and Frank Stella, as well as architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Philip Johnson, Louis Kahn, Eero Saarinen, and Buckminster Fuller. Besides art world figures, Namuth also photographed the Mam people of Todos Santos, whose native lifestyles were being overwhelmed by Western influences. Namuth died in a car crash on Long Island in 1990.

Hans Namuth was born March 17, 1915 in Essen, Germany. After he was arrested and briefly jailed for distributing anti-Nazi materials in July 1933, his father intervened and arranged for him to be sent to Paris. There he befriended German expatriates, including photographer Georg Reisner, who introduced Namuth to photography. Namuth and Reisner covered the Workers' Olympiad in July 1936 for the French magazine Vu, which put them in Barcelona during the opening stages of the Spanish Civil War. Over the next nine months, the two photographed the war, publishing their work in European publications. Namuth and Reisner returned to Paris in 1937 and continued their careers as photographers until 1939. While in Paris, Namuth studied with Joseph Breitenbach. After increased tension and hostilities between France and Germany, Namuth and his fellow German expatriates were interned, though Namuth joined the French Foreign Legion to avoid confinement. After being discharged in 1940, Namuth fled to Marseilles and from there escaped to the United States. He arrived in New York City in 1941. He was drafted in December 1943. During World War II Namuth worked for US military intelligence as an interrogator and interpreter in England, France, and Czechoslovakia. He arrived back in Germany in 1945 pursuing war criminals. Namuth did not return to Germany again until 1970.

At the end of the war, Namuth had been awarded the Purple Heart and the Croix de Guerre. He returned to New York and eventually returned to full-time to photography, first working for architecture magazines. Namuth was introduced to Alexey Brodovitch took his classes at the New School of Social Research. He then began working for Harper's Bazaar, doing fashion photography, and later children's fashion photography. Hans Namuth was not initially interested in the work of Jackson Pollock, but was convinced by his teacher Alexey Brodovitch that Pollock was an important painter. In July 1950, Namuth approached Pollock and asked to photograph the artist working in his studio. The photographs that resulted are the most famous pictures of his career and an important contribution to the history of art.[wiki]

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  • Pickup Location: New York, USA
  • Shipping Dimensions: 10.5 x 10.25 in. (26.67 x 26.04 cm.)
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