Yva

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Yva
Else Ernestine Neulander-Simon, known simply by her professional pseudonym, Yva, was a pioneering female photographer of  the Weimar Republic. She set up her first studio  in 1925 and briefly collaborated with the experimental photographer Heinz Hajek-Halke (see Dreams of Desire 54 (Written on the Body) before a copyright dispute led them to part ways. Initially focused on nude, portrait and fashion photography, Yva was one of the first photographers to fully realise the commercial application of the field to advertising. Her Berlin atelier was one of the most successful of its days and employed 10 assistants by the time Hitler came to power.

Yva and her husband Alfred Simon, who managed the financial affair of the studio, were both Jewish and considered for some time whether to emigrate from Germany, especially when she was forced to ‘Aryanize’ the business in 1936 (a law had come into effect that forbade Jews from owning businesses, necessitating the transfer of the company to her friend, the art historian Charlotte Weider). There was the possibility of a fresh start as Life magazine  had informed her that a job was waiting for her when she came to America. However Alfred was unwilling to start over again in a country where they didn’t even speak the language and thought maybe the situation in Germany would improve. Things certainly didn’t and the business was closed for good by 1938. Yva went to work as a radiographer in the Jewish Hospital in Berlin until 1942 when she was arrested, along with her husband, by the Gestapo and deported to Majdanek concentration camp where they were murdered shortly after.

As an interesting aside one of Yva’s apprentice’s from 1936 to 1938 was a young Jewish boy named Helmut NeustΓ€dter, who after escaping Germany would later change his name to Helmut Newton, creator of some of the most iconic fashion photography and celebrity portraits of the twentieth century.

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93 thoughts on “Yva

    1. Thank you Christine, the story is heart breaking and just makes me wonder about all the appalling small tragedies contained within the larger tragedy. They could have left, but why were they even put in that position to make that choice.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I suppose it is human nature to hope for the best… obviously in hindsight it seems like a foolish hope but how many people really expected for things to get as bad as they did. Unimaginable.

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      2. I would saw maybe it is just a difference in terminology… I wouldn’t use the phrase Enlightenment I would say illumination… Enlightenment says to me scientific rationalism

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  1. What a sad ending to such a creative life. Hard to comprehend the reach of those kinds of stories from that time in history. I love all of these photos. Especially her necklace, and the legs.

    Have a nice weekend, Mr. Cake.

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  2. Wow, how tragic! Is that first photo her? She is gorgeous! I love the woman in the lacy outfit with her back to the camera. Those are beautiful photos.

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    1. No the necklace is a model who appears several times. There is a self portrait however, the experimental one with the dark haired woman with short hair directly facing is Yva. The story is heartbreaking.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I guess I should look at their faces more closely. 😁 She is the last one with very short hair?
        It is heart breaking. How many talents do we lose to atrocities all the time? In all walks of life. It’s horrible.

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      2. I know… I put the photos on random order just to be difficult, she has very short hair and dominated the rather abstract background. The blonde is in two other pictures apart fr

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      3. Three other picture apart from the header. The dress, the one with jewellery in her hair and the one with the fingers framing her eyes. I hope I have an eye myself for striking images.

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      4. Ok, I think I know which she is. Yes, you certainly do have an eye for striking images. I appreciate you sharing.

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      5. I had some really good cake tonight. Pistachio sponge with a raspberry semifreddo. If you were that kind of cake, I’d… um… lol, never mind. Don’t want to be relegated to the corner again… πŸ˜‰

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      6. Mr. Cake! I will have to take a page from your book and claim my angelic status. The corner is no place for a sweet angel like me.

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    1. Thank you, unfortunately she isn’t the only artist/writer I have featured that ended up in the concentration camps and many others were interned and/or went into exile. However they were the lucky ones (if you can call it that).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, those Nazis were miserable excuse for human beings – so much damned destruction, drunk with power, and the idiotic cruelty beggars belief, but there we have it, industrialised mass murder. Thank God they was defeated, if only the whole right wing ethos could be buried forever along with them. Vigilance is the answer – and to never forget.

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  3. Hindsight is indeed 20/20. What a terrible tragedy. Outstanding images. Love the woman reading the newspaper. Some of these photos – the complete black background gives the impression of floating in nothingness. Not floating exactly but I’m not coming up with the right word.. you know what I mean.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I became aware of her through Heinz Hajek-Halke and then the heartbreaking story. Her images stand up in there own right and there was also the Helmut Newton connection so it was a winner all round. Plus there has been a dearth of nearly nude or nude women on Cake lately, I couldn’t have that could I?

      Liked by 1 person

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