Marianne Breslauer was a German photographer born the 20th of November 1909. Born into a liberal Prussian family in Berlin, she studied photography from 1927 to 1929. She then moved to Paris and worked with Man Ray.
In 1930, she joined the Ullstein photo studio in Berlin; its director at the time being Elsbeth Heddenhausen. In 1931, she travelled to Palestine; on her return to Germany, her photograph of the trip were published in Die Dame, Der Querschnitt and the Frankfuter Illustriete. In 1933, she travelled to Spain ( Giroa, Pamplona and San Sebastián) and Andorra with the brilliant Swiss writer and photographer Anne Marie Schwarzenbach.
On May 14, 1933, starting in Girona, they passed through Barcelona, Sant Cugat, Montserrat, Puigcerdà, Andorra, Huesca, Pamplona, San Sebastián and Loyola. The trip lasted two weeks, they travelled through the Pyrenees from east to west, possibly influenced by a well-documented trip taken years earlier by the writer and journalist Kurt Tucholsky. Among the places they visited, the monastery in Sant Cugat del Vallès stands out. Marianne Breslauer’s particular approach that does not focus on grand monuments, with the exception of Girona and Montserrat, but fixes her gaze on small details or characters that draw her attention.
Marianne’s shots of the trip were the focus of a recent exhibition in Museum Nacional in Barcelona. Back in Berlin, until 1934, Marianne had a successful career, publishing her work in numerous magazines; however, as a Jew she was threatened under the Nazi regime’s anti-Semitic laws. She refused to work under a pseudonym (as some publications requested) and moved to Amsterdam. Her photo “Schoolgirls” won the “Photo of the Year” award at the “Salon international d’art photographique” in Paris in 1934.
In 1936, she married the art dealer Walter Feilchenfeldt – her first child, also named Walter, was born soon after. The demands of being a mother impacted on her work as a photographer. The family fled to Zurich in 1939, where Marianne had another child; she lived the rest of her life in Switzerland. When her husband died in 1953, Marianne took over his art business, which she ran with her son.
When asked what makes a great photograph, she replied: “You know because people don’t walk past it in an exhibition, because people are attracted by a page in a magazine or stop browsing a book”. Neither technical perfection nor striking subject matter are decisive; what matters is the power of the image, the expression – the secret of the moment captured”.
So much more of Marianne’s work can be found here.