Pioneering fashion photography by Elsbeth Juda

Elsbeth Juda, known professionally as Jay (born 2 May 1911), is a British photographer most notable for her pioneering fashion photographs and work as Associate Editor and photographer for The Ambassador magazine between 1940-1965.

Juda was born in Darmstadt, Germany on 2 May 1911. At 18, she refused to go to Oxford as her father wished and went to Paris where she found work as secretary to a banker. In 1931, Elsbeth married her childhood love, Hans Juda, and they went to live in Berlin where he was a financial editor at the Berliner Tageblatt. In 1933, they fled Nazi Germany with nothing but a violin and moved to a one-room flat in London, a city she had been sent to frequently, if not happily, as a girl.

Juda studied photography under Lucia Moholy (wife of László Moholy-Nagy) formerly of the Bauhaus and started her long career in a commercial studio as “dark room boy”. In 1940, Hans became founding publisher and editor of The Ambassador, The British Export Magazine. Juda would later join the magazine as associate editor and fashion photographer as, unlike Hans, she spoke fluent English.

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Elsbeth Juda via

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Vintage Photos by Victorian Pioneer Julia Margaret Cameron (1815 – 1879)

Julia Margaret Cameron (1815 – 1879) was a British photographer, whose subjects were the celebrities of the victorian period and photographs with Arthurian and other legendary themes. Cameron was a devoted pioneer of the art of photography. She was visionary in her belief of the ‘divine’ power of the medium, daring in her experiments with image making and persistent in the promotion of her work. Cameron was 48 years old when she obtained her first camera, given to her as a gift by her daughter and son-in-law. Cameron was religious, well-read and a bit eccentric. She wrote upon receiving the camera: “From the first moment I handled my lens with a tender ardour,” … “and it has become to me as a living thing, with voice and memory and creative vigour.”

She produced the majority of her work from her home at Freshwater on the Isle of Wight. By the coercive force of her eccentric personality, she enlisted everyone around her as models, from family members to domestic servants and local residents. Cameron acted out scenes from mythology, the Bible and Shakespeare, even creating an entire series based off Tennyson’s poetry. The wife of a retired jurist, Cameron moved in the highest circles of society in Victorian England. Having friends in the Victorian poetry and science circles like Alfred Lord Tennyson and Sir John Herschel. These accomplished compatriots soon became Cameron’s favorite subjects.

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Maud (Illustration to Tennyson’s Idylls of the King and Other Poems), 1875

Alice Liddell, 1872

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The Sunflower, 1866

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After the Manner of Perugino, 1865

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The Eccho, 1868

A Collection of Photos by Pioneer Ilse Bing (1899 – 1998)

The German avant-garde and commercial photographer produced pioneering monochrome images during the inter-war era.

Her move from Frankfurt to the burgeoning avant-garde and surrealist scene in Paris in 1930 marked the start of the most notable period of her career. She produced images in the fields of photojournalism, architectural photography, advertising and fashion, and her work was published in magazines such as Le Monde Illustre, Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. Respected for her use of daring perspectives, unconventional cropping, use of natural light, and geometries, she also discovered a type of solarisation for negatives independently of a similar process developed by the artist Man Ray.

She remained in Paris for ten years, but in the shadow of World War II, she and her husband immigrated to New York City in 1941. There, she had to re-establish her reputation, and got steady work in portraiture. By 1947, Bing came to the realization that New York had revitalized her art. Her style was very different; the softness that characterized her work in the 1930s gave way to hard forms and clear lines, with a sense of harshness and isolation. This was indicative of how Bing’s life and worldview had been changed by her move to New York and the war-related events of the 1940s.

Ilse Bing. Beethoven Autograph, Ode to Joy, 1933 via

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Self-portrait by Ilse Bing, 1931 via

Ilse Bing. Leather Gloves, 1933 via

 Ilse Bing. Self Portrait, Canal Saint Martin, Paris via

Ilse Bing. Fountain. Place De La Concorde via

Ilse Bing. Solarized Clocks, Paris, 1934 via

Vintage Photos of Expressionist Dancer Mary Wigman

Strong and convincing art has never arisen from theories – Mary Wigman 

Mary Wigman (1886 – 1973) was a German dancer, choreographer, notable as the pioneer of expressionist dance, dance therapy, and movement training without pointe shoes. She is considered one of the most important figures in the history of modern dance. She became one of the most iconic figures of Weimar German culture and her work was hailed for bringing the deepest of existential experiences to the stage. Wigman, who viewed herself as a dancer of humanity, proved fascinating to painters Emil Nolde and Ernst Ludwig Kirchne. Her dances were often accompanied by world music and non-Western instrumentation, such as fifes and primarily percussions, bells, including the gongs and drums from India, Thailand, Africa, and China, contrasted with silence. She would often employ masks in her pieces, influenced again by non-western/tribal dance.

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Mary Wigman Performing

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Clips from Totenmal 1929

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Mary Wigman performs Hexentanz in 1929

Amazing Photos of the First Modern Dancer Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan (1877 – 1927)  is known as the mother of  “modern dance,” founding the “New System” of interpretive dance, blending together poetry, music and the rhythms of nature.  She did not believe in the formality of conventional ballet and gave birth to a more free form of dance. She ultimately proved to be the most famous dancer of her time.

Duncan’s philosophy of dance moved away from rigid ballet technique and towards what she perceived as natural movement. To restore dance to a high art form instead of entertainment, she sought the connection between emotions and movement:

“I spent long days and nights in the studio seeking that dance which might be the divine expression of the human spirit through the medium of the body’s movement.”

“The dancer’s body is simply the luminous manifestation of the soul.”

Duncan took inspiration from ancient Greece and combined it with an American love of freedom. This is exemplified in her revolutionary costume of a white Grecian tunic and bare feet. Inspired by Grecian forms, her tunics also allowed a freedom of movement corseted ballet costumes and pointe shoes did not. She was very inspired by ancient Greek art and utilized some of those forms in her movement. Duncan wrote of American dancing:

“let them come forth with great strides, leaps and bounds, with lifted forehead and far-spread arms, to dance.”

Her focus on natural movement emphasized steps, such as skipping, outside of codified ballet technique. Duncan also cites the sea as an early inspiration for her movement. Also, she believed movement originated from the solar plexus, which she thought was the source of all movement. It was this philosophy and new dance technique that garnered Duncan the title of the creator of modern dance.

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Beautiful Vintage Photos of Ruth St. Denis

Ruth Saint Denis (January 1879 – 1968) was a modern dance pioneer, introducing eastern ideas into the art.

While touring in Belasco’s production of Madame Du Barry in 1904 her life was changed. She was at a drugstore with another member of Belasco’s company in Buffalo, New York, when she saw a poster advertising Egyptian Deities cigarettes. The poster portrayed the Egyptian goddess Isis enthroned in a temple; this image captivated St. Denis on the spot and inspired her to create dances that expressed the mysticism that the goddess’s image conveyed. From then on, St. Denis was immersed in Oriental philosophies.

Like Loie Fuller and Isadora Duncan before her, St. Denis felt that Europe might have more to offer her. She left with her mother for London in 1906, and traveled the continent performing her “translations” until 1909, when she returned to give a series of well-received concerts in New York City and on tour in the United States. During the next five years she continued to tour, building her reputation as an exotic dancer with an artistic bent, a “classic dancer” in the same catagory as Isadora Duncan. These two artists were, however, inherently different in their approach to the solo dance. According to St. Denis’ biographer Suzanne Shelton, Duncan sought “the Self in the Universe,” and St. Denis sought “the Universe in the Self.” For St. Denis, the exotic worlds she intended to interpret could be seen from the vantage point of her body. One of her quotes reads as follows:

I see dance being used as communication between body and soul, to express what is too deep to find for words.

After 1911, the vogue for solo dancers on the professional stage died down. To support herself, St. Denis often gave private lessons to society women, including Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. In 1938 St. Denis founded Adelphi University’s dance program, one of the first dance departments in an American university. It has since become a cornerstone of Adelphi’s Department of Performing Arts.

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Ruth St Denis in the ‘East Indian Nautch Dance’ (1932)

Ruth St Denis is seen here performing the Indian Noche (1932) one of her most famous pieces.