GERMAINE KRULL

(1897-1985)

Germaine Krull (1897-1985) was a French photographer and political activist. Born on 29th November 1897 in Wilda-Posnań (East Prussia), Krull would later attend the Bayerische Staatslehranstalt für Lichtbildwesen in Munich (Germany) from 1915 to 1918. A year after graduating, she opened her own photography studio in Munich, where she specialised in producing portraits of notable clients, such as Kurt Eisner (1867-1919). Krull also became politically active during this time. She joined the German Communist Party in 1919, which ultimately led to her expulsion from Munich. Furthermore, during a visit to Russia in 1921, Krull was incarcerated for her counterrevolutionary support of the Free French cause against Hitler. Following these incidents, Krull moved to Berlin, where she resumed her photographic career in 1922. She would travel on to Amsterdam in 1925 before eventually settling Paris in 1926. While in the Netherlands, Krull was fascinated by the cranes, bridges, and other metal structures that could be seen on the docks in the Netherlands.

Mrs. Hubbel. Photograph in 'Photo 1931' book

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Woman and hands. Photograph in 'Photo 1931' book

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Prinz Mas Nadja-Djava dancing - Tearsheet from Die Dame, 1930

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Mrs. Hubbel. Photograph in 'Photo 1931' book

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This fascination culminated in the photographic portfolio – Métal (1928) – which was published once Krull had moved to Paris. The portfolio helped to position her at the centre of avant-garde photography, and she quickly befriended many Parisian artists and intellectuals, such as Colette (1873-1954), Jean Cocteau (1889-1963) and Sonia Delauney (1885-1979). By 1928, Germaine Krull was exhibiting her work frequently at, for instance, the first Salon des indépendants de la Photographie in Paris (also known as the Salon de l’escalier, 1928); Film und Foto in Stuttgart (1929), as well as in Munich and Brussels. During this same period, Krull also worked for several magazines, including Vu, Weekly Illustrated, Voilà, Détective and Jazz, where she spent time with- and sometimes collaborated with other photographers, such as Berenice Abbott (1898-1991), André Kertész (1894-1985), Man Ray (1890-1976) and Eli Lotar (1905-1969). In the late 1930s, Krull opened another studio in Monte Carlo, where her focused changed to photographing scenes from everyday life. After 1945, Krull became a war reporter for various newspapers; travelling to Germany, Italy and Indochina, before leaving for Thailand and India. By 1946, she became the co-owner of the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. Germaine Krull ran the hotel until 1966, during which time she produced three additional photography books. Her final major photographic project was the publication of a 1968 book titled Tibetans in India. However, after suffering a stroke in the 1980s, Krull moved to a nursing home in Germany, where she died on 31st July 1985.