The Dutch-Hungarian photographer Eva Besnyö was at the forefront of the New Objectivity movement while also representing women photographers in her field. Marking as her departure from the fine art photography and into objective photography, the show EVA BESNYÖ – PHOTOGRAPHER. Budapest, Berlin, Amsterdam is exhibiting her oeuvre at the Käthe Kollwitz Museum, Berlin. The exhibition name came from the three major cities that influenced Besnyö's life.
Besnyö was trained in Budapest under József Pécsi, who was known as a master of fine art photography and portraiture. It was in Pécsi's studio where her journey began, along with Hungarian artist György Kepes. . One of the major influences in her life was photographer Albert Renger-Patzsch's The World is Beautiful — quickly becoming a reference for her. In the early 1930's, Besnyö moved in Berlin to do voluntary work and later on became a freelance photographer. Moving on from Pécsi's Pictorialist background, Besnyö's worked focused on the streets. She explored the humanitarian power of photography and increasingly became more involved in photo-reportage as her means of rebelling against the fascist regime in Hungary. She was forced to move to Amsterdam in 1932 due to the tense political climate, Besnyö began mixing and experimenting with her work —living alongside avant-garde artists, photographers, and filmmakers.
Besnyö's work can be identified by the captivating glances, unique perspectives and clever use of light and shadow captured in her images. Exhibition writers Marion Beckers and Elisabeth Moortgat further emphasized Eva Besnyö's legacy in photography: ”Eva Besnyö's poetic black and white compositions express her personal imagery with which she has opened up her world. Photohistorically, they stand alongside the experiments of Ilse Bing, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Florence Henri, André Kertész, and Germaine Krull.”
There were many interruptions in her career as a photographer. When the Nazi party rose to power she was forced to produce work and live under an alias in an attempt to hide her Jewish heritage — yet in spite of such great odds, Besnyö carved her name into the history books as a true master of photography.
Besnyö’s oeuvre is an eclectic one that is derived from the romanticism in Parisian photography, the Constructivist philosophy (rejection of the idea of autonomous art) of Russia, and the New Objectivity movement (the reaction against Expressionism) of Berlin.
Get to know more about Eva Besnyö's life and photography by visiting the Käthe Kollwitz Museum. The show is open until December 9.