Aenne Biermann

Aenne Biermann, Selbstportrait mit silberner Kugel, 1931
Courtesy Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg 
1898 – 1933 / German Photographer of the “Neues Sehen [New Vision]” movement

Growing up

Aenne Biermann was born in 1898 in North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany). She grew up in a Jewish family living a bourgeois life. While Biermann’s brothers attend secondary schools, she is primarily educated in music and – at times – she even considers a career as a professional pianist.

Getting started in photography

After marrying the Jewish merchant Herbert Biermann, the artist moves to Thuringia, where she discovers photography. At first, she photographed her two children primarily for private purposes, but soon she discovered a very special attraction to photography. She realises that she can stage everyday things in such a unique and special way that they develop “a very own life.”

Aenne Biermann, Eier, 1931
Courtesy Stiftung Ann und Jürgen Wilde, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, München
Initial success

A few years later, thanks to the engagement of art historian Franz Roh, Biermann was able to exhibit and publish her photographs for the first time in 1928. Although the photographer had previously  worked exclusively autodidactically and away from the art metropolis of the world, her work soon gains recognition and appraisal and further international exhibitions and awards follow. In 1930, Franz Roh even featured the publication “Aenne Biermann. 60 photos” in his book series “Fototek”.

Scattering of Biermann’s work

Aenne Biermann worked intensively for two more years until she fell ill in 1932 and died the following year at the age of only 34. The photographer no longer experiences the seizure of power by the National Socialists, but her family suffers from repression and gradually leaves the country. They are unable to take Biermann’s photographs with them, and so the majority of Aenne Biermann’s work is now destroyed or lost. About 400 original prints of the photographer are in museums and private collections in Germany, Europe and the USA.