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Lotte Jacobi

(Thorn, Germany, 1896 - 1990, Concord, New Hampshire)

American, born Germany

Johanna Alexandra “Lotte” Jacobi grew up in West Prussia (now Poland), assisting in her father’s photographic studio from the age of twelve. Soon after moving to Berlin in 1921, Jacobi began studying film at the University of Munich while also attending the Bavarian State Academy of Photography. She eventually became a highly successful portrait photographer in Berlin, but the majority of her work from this period was lost when her Jewish heritage and leftist politics forced her to flee Berlin for New York City in 1935 following Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. Jacobi began experimenting with photographic processes in New York in the 1940s, which led her to begin using a flashlight diffused by translucent plastic to “draw” abstract images onto photo-sensitive paper. Several of these photographs, dubbed photogenics, were exhibited in group exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1948 and 1951. Jacobi continued to make portraits while living in New York City and later New Hampshire, capturing key cultural figures such as Marc Chagall, W.E.B. DuBois, Albert Einstein, Robert Frost, Käthe Kollwitz, Thomas Mann, Eleanor Roosevelt, J.D. Salinger and Alfred Stieglitz, among many others.

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