Vintage Photos of Performance Artist Emmy Hennings (1885-1948)

Emmy Hennings (born Emma Maria Cordsen, 1885 – 1948) was a performer and poet. She was also the wife of celebrated Dadaist Hugo Ball.

Hennings and Ball moved to Zurich in 1915, where they took part in the founding of the Cabaret Voltaire, which marked the beginning of the Dada movement. Hennings was a regular performer at the Cabaret Voltaire. Her performances included a role in Das Leben des Menschen (the Life of a Man), in which she appeared with Ball.

In The Magic Bishop: Hugo Ball, Dada Poet, author Erdmute Wenzel White writes that Hennings “was admired by expressionists as the incarnation of the cabaret artist of her time… The shining star of the Voltaire, according to the Zuricher Post (Zurich Post), her role in Dada has not been adequately acknowledged.

After the Cabaret Voltaire ended, Hennings and Ball toured, performing mostly in hotels. Hennings sang, did puppetry, and danced to music composed by Ball. She also recited her own poetry. In 1916 Ball and Hennings created Arabella, their own ensemble troupe, where Hennings performed under the name Dagny.

Hennings married Ball on 21 February 1920. Although they had no children together, Hennings had a daughter, Annemarie, from a previous relationship. Hennings, who outlived Ball by two decades, lived in Magliaso, Switzerland from 1942 to 1948. She died at a clinic in Sorengo, Switzerland.

Emmy Hennings been almost completely erased from the history of the Dada movement. This was due to her own inner conflict, her extreme practice of Catholicism contrasting with her debauched bohemian lifestyle but also because of her constant rewriting of her story and that of Hugo Ball during the latter part of her life. Dada artists and historians thus preferred to eclipse the role Emmy Hennings and turned her into a naive eccentric adorned by a childish bob haircut (source).

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Emmy Hennings and her dada puppets, 1916 via

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Emmy Hennings, 1910-1913 via

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Emmy Hennings with her friends for Revolution Ball of “Action”, 1915 via

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Emmy Hennings, 1915 via

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Emmy Hennings, 1917-1918

The First Modern Fashion Photography Shoot: Paul Poiret by Edward Stechein (1911)

In 1911, publisher Lucien Vogel dared photographer Edward Steichen to promote fashion as a fine art in his work. Steichen responded by snapping photos of gowns designed by leading French fashion designer Paul Poiret, hauntingly backlit and shot at inventive angles.

The photographs were published in the April 1911 issue of the magazine Art et Décoration. According to historian Jesse Alexander, the occasion is:

“now considered to be the first ever modern fashion photography shoot,”

The garments were imaged as much for their artistic quality as their formal appearance

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Edward Steichen, L’Art de la Robe by Paul Poiret in Art et Décoration, 1911 via

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Edward Steichen, L’Art de la Robe by Paul Poiret in Art et Décoration, 1911 via

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Edward Steichen, L’Art de la Robe by Paul Poiret in Art et Décoration, 1911 via

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Edward Steichen, L’Art de la Robe by Paul Poiret in Art et Décoration, 1911 via

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Edward Steichen, L’Art de la Robe by Paul Poiret in Art et Décoration, 1911 via

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Edward Steichen, L’Art de la Robe by Paul Poiret in Art et Décoration, 1911 via

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Edward Steichen, L’Art de la Robe by Paul Poiret in Art et Décoration, 1911 via

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Edward Steichen, L’Art de la Robe by Paul Poiret in Art et Décoration, 1911 via

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Edward Steichen, L’Art de la Robe by Paul Poiret in Art et Décoration, 1911 via

Beautiful Turn of the Century Postcards by Rita Martin

Rita Martin (1875-1958) started her photographic career in 1897 when she helped her elder sister Lallie Charles to run her studio. In 1906 she opened her own studio, working in a similar studio to Charles, photographing subjects in pale colours against a pure white background, and focused on actresses such as Lily Elsie and Lily Brayton and child studies, particularly of Gladys Cooper’s two children.

Martin’s and Charles’ few surviving negatives were presented to the National Portrait Gallery by their niece Lallie Charles Martin in 1994.

NPG x131516; Dame Gladys Cooper by Rita Martin, published by  J. Beagles & Co

Dame Gladys Cooper

by Rita Martin, published by J. Beagles & Co
bromide postcard print, 1910. © National Portrait Gallery, London via

NPG x131515; Dame Gladys Cooper by Rita Martin, published by  J. Beagles & Co

Dame Gladys Cooper

by Rita Martin, published by J. Beagles & Co
bromide postcard print, 1910. © National Portrait Gallery, London via

NPG x131528; Lily Elsie (Mrs Bullough) by Rita Martin, published by  J. Beagles & Co

Lily Elsie (Mrs Bullough)

by Rita Martin, published by J. Beagles & Co
bromide postcard print, 1907. © National Portrait Gallery, London via

NPG x131530; Lily Elsie (Mrs Bullough) by Rita Martin, published by  J. Beagles & Co

Lily Elsie (Mrs Bullough)

by Rita Martin, published by J. Beagles & Co
bromide postcard print, 1907. © National Portrait Gallery, London via

NPG x131450; Lily Brayton as Katherine in 'The Taming of the Shrew' by Rita Martin

Lily Brayton as Katherine in ‘The Taming of the Shrew’

by Rita Martin
postcard print, 1904. © National Portrait Gallery, London via

NPG x131451; Lily Brayton as Katherine in 'The Taming of the Shrew' by Rita Martin, published by  Aristophot Co Ltd

Lily Brayton as Katherine in ‘The Taming of the Shrew’

by Rita Martin
postcard print, 1904. © National Portrait Gallery, London via

NPG x128831; Nora Kerin in 'The Prince and the Beggarmaid' by Rita Martin, published by  Rotary Photographic Co Ltd

Nora Kerin in ‘The Prince and the Beggarmaid’

by Rita Martin, published by Rotary Photographic Co Ltd
bromide postcard print, 1908. © National Portrait Gallery, London via

NPG x128832; Nora Kerin in 'The Prince and the Beggarmaid' by Rita Martin, published by  Rotary Photographic Co Ltd

Nora Kerin in ‘The Prince and the Beggarmaid’

by Rita Martin, published by Rotary Photographic Co Ltd
bromide postcard print, 1908. © National Portrait Gallery, London via

Extraordinary Vintage Photos of The American Circus by Frederick W. Glasier

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Queen, the High Diving Horse, Brockton Fair, Massachusetts, circa 1899 via

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Joan of Arc, circa 1912 via

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Ella Bradna, Equestrian, circa 1903 via

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Loie Fuller, Glorine, Butterfly Dancer, 1902 via

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Charmion, Strong Woman, 1904 via

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Nettie Carrol, circa 1904 via

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Annette Kellerman, circa 1907 via

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Gertrude Dewar, Mademoiselle Omega, Brockton Fair, Massachusetts, 1908 via

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Mademoiselle Scheel with Lions, circa 1905 via

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Living Statues, circa 1905 via

Famous Belle Epoque Actress Eve Lavallière Being Fashionable in “Les Modes”

Ève Lavallière was born at 8 rue Champ-de-Mars in Toulon. Her birth was not desired, and she was placed, up to school age, with a local family of peasants. At school age, however, she was enrolled by her parents in a private school of excellent reputation. After the death of her parents in tragic circumstances, and after running away from home. she arrived, as a teenager, in Paris. She became an actress renowned in the Belle Époque, including the Théâtre des Variétés in Paris.

Later she became a noteworthy Catholic penitent and member of the Secular Franciscan Order.

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Eve Lavallière dressed in Jenny. Les Modes, May 1914 via

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Eve Lavallière in Les Modes, 1902 (dresses for the comedy Les Deux Ecoles) via

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Eve Lavallière in Les Modes, 1902 (dresses for the comedy Les Deux Ecoles) via

Silhouettes Parisiennes, Wonderful Belle Epoque Fashion Images by Freres Neurdein (ca. 1910s)

The brothers Neurdein, Etienne and Louis, had a studio in Paris from 1863 until just before the outbreak of WWI. Etienne Neurdein stayed primarily in Paris, producing local projects, portraits in the studio, and photographing art entries at the Salon de Paris from which many lovely postcards were produced, while his brother Louis traveled widely, spending much of his time in Algeria. Silhouettes Parisiennes was probably produced by Etienne Neurdein.

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Silhouettes Parisiennes by Freres Neurdein, circa 1910s via

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Silhouettes Parisiennes by Freres Neurdein, circa 1910s via

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Silhouettes Parisiennes by Freres Neurdein, circa 1910s via

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Silhouettes Parisiennes by Freres Neurdein, circa 1910s via

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Silhouettes Parisiennes by Freres Neurdein, circa 1910s via

Marvelous Portraits by Edward Weston

Edward Henry Weston (1886 – 1958) was a 20th-century American photographer. He has been called:

“one of the most innovative and influential American photographers…” and “one of the masters of 20th century photography.”

Over the course of his 40-year career Weston photographed an increasingly expansive set of subjects, including landscapes, still lifes, nudes, portraits, genre scenes and even whimsical parodies. It is said that he developed a:

“quintessentially American, and specially Californian, approach to modern photography”

because of his focus on the people and places of the American West. In 1937 Weston was the first photographer to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship, and over the next two years he produced nearly 1,400 negatives using his 8 × 10 view camera. Some of his most famous photographs were taken of the trees and rocks at Point Lobos, California, near where he lived for many years.

Weston was born in Chicago and moved to California when he was 21. He knew he wanted to be a photographer from an early age, and initially his work was typical of the soft focus pictorialism that was popular at the time. Within a few years, however, he abandoned that style and went on to be one of the foremost champions of highly detailed photographic images.

In 1947 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and he stopped photographing soon thereafter. He spent the remaining ten years of his life overseeing the printing of more than 1,000 of his most famous images.

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Edward Weston, Portrait of Ruth St. Denis, 1916 via

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Edward Weston, Unidentified Woman, 1920 via

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Tina Modotti, Glendale. Photograph by Edward Weston, 1921 via

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Edward Weston. Frida Kahlo, 1930 via

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Xenia Kashevaroff photographed by Edward Weston in 1931. This portrait is now in the collection of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art via

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Edward Weston, Charis Wilson, 1941 The Lane Collection
Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston via