Gerti Deutsch − Life in Japan

Exhibition at FOTOHOF archiv: 24 January − 3 August 2019

Gerti Deutsch - aus der Serie: Life in Japan 1960
Gerti Deutsch - aus der Serie: Life in Japan 1960
Gerti Deutsch - aus der Serie: Life in Japan 1960

Press Release
Gerti Deutsch – Life in Japan (1960)

The new FOTOHOF archiv presentation entitled Life in Japan by photographer Gerti Deutsch offers an insight into everyday life and culture in Japan in 1960 while showcasing various forms of expression and uses of photography.

After embarking on a successful career as a photo journalist for London’s Picture Post, one of the first modern-day weekly picture magazines, Gerti Deutsch accepted an invitation in 1960 from the Japanese camera industry to visit the country for a photo-reportage lasting several weeks. With a European’s gaze she photographed cultural institutions, industry, untouched rural life, and people out and about on the streets. In her photographs she went in search of touch-points between tradition and modernity in Japanese life. We now know today that this particular period was in fact one of crucial change in Japanese society.

The FOTOHOF archiv owns the very extensive estate from that trip, comprised of both the negatives and the original photographs of a Gerti Deutsch exhibition staged in London in 1962. In keeping with the remit of an art photography archive, the Werkschau (or work exhibition) shows a selection of large-format analogue photographs mounted on hardboard, very much in line with the spirit of the 1960s. Also featured are digital copies of motifs that were disregarded at the time, but have since been revisited by the Archive staff. One particular rarity are the print templates on a cardboard backing set out in the planned layout for a book about Japan that was never realised. There are also examples of how her photographs were used in contemporary magazines, documents about her trip, and finally large-format contact copies of her films, the photographer’s ‘visual diary’, as it were.

In the tradition of the Werkschau, the new presentation by the FOTOHOF archiv aims to provide an insight into the scientific work conducted on the photographic estate by the Archive and to showcase the different ways in which the photographs have been used, from magazine reportage to art exhibition.

Gerti Deutsch (*1908 in Vienna, †1979 in Leamington Spa, UK) was a photographer. She lived and worked in Austria and England.

Gerti Deutsch grew up an only child, born to Jewish parents. At the age of sixteen she began studying at the Wiener Musikakademie, the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. Unable to achieve her career goal of becoming a concert pianist, owing to neuritis, she turned to photography instead. From 1933–1934 she retrained as a photographer at Vienna’s Graphische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt (Graphic Arts College).
After spells in Paris and London where she thought she would be taken more seriously as a professional woman than in her home country, Gerti Deutsch briefly returned to Vienna. Owing to the increasingly threatening climate for Jews and the more promising professional opportunities in England, she returned to London for good. In 1936 she had her first exhibition at the Austrian Cultural Association in London, a forerunner of the present-day Austrian Cultural Forum. In 1938 she began working as a freelance photojournalist and press photographer for the weekly picture magazine Picture Post. That same year she married the then assistant editor-in-chief Tom Hopkinson. Two daughters followed, Nicolette (married name: Nicolette Roeske) and Amanda.

Career as a photographer
Between 1937 and the early 1960s she produced a large number of photographic features for magazines such as Picture Post, Nova, Holiday, Queen, Harper’s Bazaar, The Tatler, and the Swiss magazines Atlantis and L’Oeil. Her most important reportages as a photo-journalist include Their First Day in England (1938), featuring photographs of the arrival of Jewish refugee children on the Kindertransport from Nazi Germany to England, and her documentation of Vienna divided by the occupying powers after the war (1948). In the 1950s she frequently collaborated with the photographer Inge Morath, who had also emigrated from Austria. Among Gerti Deutsch’s estate is a large number of photographs captioned and signed by both photographers, but so far no records documenting the precise extent of their co-operation have been found. Gerti Deutsch’s oeuvre also comprises several outlines for book projects that were never realised and have survived merely as maquettes. Music remained an enduring love, and she took many portraits of great musicians such as Yehudi Menuhin, Benjamin Britten, Arturo Toscanini, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Herbert von Karajan, and Irmgard Seefried. Many of these portraits were taken in Salzburg and Vienna. In the 1960s Gerti Deutsch retired from professional life as a photographer and moved from London to Salzburg.
Gerti Deutsch had two major exhibitions during her lifetime: the first, on Austria, was shown at the Austrian Institute in London in 1958; the second, on Japan, on the occasion of the Trade Fair at Olympia in London in 1962, based on a commission she received via the Japanese embassy in London. Following the rediscovery of her work, an exhibition was staged at the Austrian Cultural Forum in London from February to May 2010 and in Berlin in January 2011, with by a more extensive exhibition at FOTOHOF gallery in Salzburg from June to July 2011. No catalogue raisonné of the works of Gerti Deutsch currently exists.

Selected exhibitions

1957, Austrian Institute, London: Gerti Deutsch – Images from Austria and England (1932–1952)
1962, Olympia Trade Fair, London: Life in Japan (the first exhibition of her Japan photographs and the only one to be shown during her lifetime)
3.2.–11.5.2010, Austrian Cultural Forum, London, Gerti Deutsch – Between Vienna and London, Images from Austria and England (1932–1952)
January 2011, Austrian Cultural Forum Berlin, Gerti Deutsch – Between Vienna and London, Images from Austria and England (1932–1952)
22.6.–30.7.2011, FOTOHOF, Salzburg: Gerti Deutsch: Photographs 1935-1865
23.10.2012–3.3.2013, Jewish Museum, Vienna: Vienna’s Shooting Girls – Jewish Women Photographers from Vienna
26.7.–26.10.2014, Museum der Moderne, Salzburg (group exhibition): Art/(Hi)stories
29.9.2016–5.3.2017, DAS VERBORGENE MUSEUM, Berlin: Gerti Deutsch and Jeanne Mandello – A Destiny in Emigration


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