Born in Budapest in 1896 Ergy Landau started her brilliant photography career by completing an apprenticeship in her home town with Olga Máté, a Hungarian photographer known mostly for her portraits. Moving to Vienna she worked with the Austrian photographer Franz Xaver Setzer, also known for his portraiture. Finally, in 1919, she spent time in Berlin with Rudolf Dührkoop a German portrait photographer and a leading proponent of pictorialism (photography that emphasised the artist beauty of the subject matter, tonality, and composition rather than the literal recording of reality.) Landau first exhibited her work back in Hungary in 1921 but moved to Paris two years later where she opened a studio.
At the beginning of her career Landau was influenced by Pictorialism, influenced by Dührkoop one of her mentors, before she turned towards the Nouvelle Vision (New vision) – a photography movement which developed in the 1920s relating to the principles of the Bauhaus. This meant an attraction to forms, objects and materials and with a sharpness of image (this was the opposite to Pictorialism). Using a Rolleiflex camera her advertising photographs and her images of Paris in the 1920s were popular and successful – especially her female nudes that were published in magazines such as Arts et Métiers Graphiques. Despite this success – Ergy Landau was undoubtedly seen as a leading figure in the mid 20th century – when she died in 1967 after travelling around the world particularly in Mongolia and China, she had mostly been forgotten.
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