"Modern Group Portraits in New York Exile. Community and Belonging in the Work of Arthur Kaufmann and Hermann Landshoff"

Burcu Dogramaci

Modernism in Migration. Relocating Artists, Objects, and Ideas, 1910–1970, special issue of Stedelijk Studies, no. 9, 2019

The contribution follows the various visual semantics of the emigrant/emigration and their formulation in the traditional format of the group picture. Questions about the relationship between the “We” and the “I” are discussed in the horizon of emigration and modern painting or photography. In the genre of the exilic group picture are attempts to compensate the forced distance to the place of origin. This mode of self-portrayal can be found, for example, in the photographic group portraits of New York around 1940, when the emigrated Surrealists had themselves photographed together or with their American colleagues. These photographs by Hermann Landshoff or George Platt Lynes, which emphasize this solidarity, were used for advertising purposes in exhibition catalogues or in magazines. Arthur Kaufmann’s group portrait Die Geistige Emigration (1939-64), on the other hand, is more of an archival claim of its own. The group portrait, composed of individual portraits of German-speaking emigrants from the 1930s and 1940s, emphasizes the expulsion of intellectuals on the one hand, but also refers to the potential of the personalities exiled to the USA on the other. But the group can also, as in the portrait series of artists and photographers from Hermann Landshoff, create a synopsis of individual portraits. The format of the series lends these pictures a context and emphasizes their infinite expandability.