Friday, May 10, 2013

The Skinny -- Genia Rubin

To use a stupid little phrase we Blackbird girls use quite frequently -- if wishes were dreams...then I would have more wall space in our house.  Well, I'd just have more house to our house.  Extra rooms, extra display space, extra wall space for more art.  And if wishes were dreams, I could have vintage (OK, I could only afford prints...) fashion photography and portraiture.  You know, the really good stuff, like Richard Avedon and Cecil Beaton.  And this guy, Genia Rubin.

I recently stumbled upon the work of Genia Rubin, and although I haven't been able to find much out about his life, I thought I could at least share some of his stunning work with you, our readers.  His work has a surrealist vein running through it, showing "provocative forms of unrestrained, convulsive beauty."* 

Genia Rubin (real name: Yevgeny Hermanovitch Rubin) was born in Kiev in 1906, and died in Paris in 2001.  He left Russia in 1927, traveling to Berlin, where he assisted Karl Freund, cinematographer for Metropolis (1927) and an Academy Award winner for Best Cinematography in 1937 for The Good Earth.  

Rubin went to Paris in 1929, where he worked as a still and portrait photographer in the Pathé Film Studios, a company which produced over 70 feature films between 1929-1935, including some of France's first talkie pictures. In 1931, Rubin returned to Berlin, where he met the well-known portrait photographer, Rolf Mahrenholz.   He opened his own photo studio in the Kurfürstendamm, one of the most famous avenues in Berlin.   

Rubin soon began working with fashion magazine editor, Franz Wolfgang Koebner, the editor of a popular magazine, The Elegant World.  It launched his fashion career.  In 1935, he moved back to Paris, where he met photographer Harry Ossip Meerson. They collaborated, and after Meerson's departure for America, Rubin took over his studio.

During his fashion career, Rubin photographed for Indian magazine Femina, Harper's Bazaar and Australian magazine, The Home. After WWII, he met the English court photographer, Baron Stirling Henry Nahum, and until 1956, Rubin worked alternately as a guest fashion photographer in Baron's London studio and as a photo correspondent for the Daily Express in Paris.

Through his acquaintance with André Breton, the founder of Surrealism, Rubin learned about contemporary painting in Paris in 1947, and his work was represented that year, along with other artists', in the international Surrealist exhibition at the Galerie Maeght, a gallery for modern art, founded in Cannes in 1936.

In 1957, Rubin worked for Maison et Jardin (House and Garden, Condé Nast ), photographing parks, gardens, palaces and works of art in France, England and Italy. From 1959 on, he devoted himself again to his modern painting and photography.

 And that's it folks.  That's all I've got!  The Biksady Gallery in Budapest had an exhibit of his work in February through March of this year, and that's where I got most of the images.  I'm definitely intrigued now, and I'm going to dig some more.  Hopefully you enjoyed the images -- and I'll leave you with one of his lovely portraits!

* From the Metropolitan Museum of Art, here.

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