Hugo Erfurth


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(1874–1948), German photographer. After attending the Dresden Commercial School, Erfurth served a photographic apprenticeship (1892–6), then took over a leading Dresden studio. During the next two decades he prospered commercially, exhibited widely, and garnered many awards. Before 1914 he may also have taught at the Leipzig Academy of Graphic Arts and Book Design. In 1919 he co-founded the Society of German Photographers (Gesellschaft Deutscher Lichtbildner; GDL). Although he did significant work in industrial, theatrical, and especially dance photography (and experimented with photograms and photomontage) his main claim to fame was as one of 20th-century Germany's leading portraitists. In addition to royalty, aristocrats, and politicians—including Konrad Adenauer in 1927—his subjects belonged mainly to the cultural elite, including artists, designers, writers, and stage personalities. He was a close friend of the painter Otto Dix, and they portrayed each other many times. Stylistically, he developed from a Jugendstil-inflected decorative pictorialism in the 1900s to a cleaner, psychologically sharper, sometimes almost clinical approach after the First World War. In 1934 he moved to Cologne, where his studio and archive were bombed in 1943.

From The Oxford Companion to the Photograph in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Photography and Photographs.

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