About the Artist

Explore life events
  • Unknown photographer. Portrait of Roman Karmen. 1926. Reproduced in Roman Karmen. Moscow: Soveksportfilʹm, 1976. The Museum of Modern Art Library, New York

    Roman Karmen was born Roman Kornman on November 16, 1906, in Odessa, a port city on the Black Sea in present-day Ukraine. Shortly after moving to Moscow, in 1923, Karmen developed his hobby of photography into a profession. He became a member of the Russian Organization of Proletariat Photographers, and his photographs were widely published in newspapers and illustrated magazines, including USSR in Construction, Ogoniok, and Sovetskoe foto. In 1928 his work was included in the exhibition Ten Years of Soviet Photography, in Moscow, along with that of Aleksandr Rodchenko, Semyon Fridlyand, and Max Penson. He enrolled in the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography, Moscow, in 1929. Throughout the 1930s, Karmen worked at the Central Studio of Documentary Film and as a correspondent for Soviet newspapers, including Pravda and Izvestii. He participated in the exhibition Film und Foto, mounted in Stuttgart in 1929, as well as the Exposition internationale de la photographie contemporaine (International exhibition of contemporary photography), at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, in 1936. During World War II, Karmen was present on the front lines, documenting the Leningrad blockade, the surrender of German field marshal Friedrich Paulus in Volgograd, and the liberation of the Majdanek concentration camp in Lublin. The Soviet Union awarded Karmen the Lenin Prize, the highest Soviet honor, for his 1953 film Story of the Caspian Oil Workers. Karmen died on April 28, 1978, in Moscow.

    —Ksenia Nouril

  • Alternate Name(s) Roman Lazarevich Karmen (Birth Name)
    Роман Кармен (Alternate Name)

Meeting Points

Artist Chronology

November 16, 1906
At location: Roman Karmen
Lives in Moscow
At location: Roman Karmen
Becomes a member of the Russian Organization of Proletariat Photographers
At location: Roman Karmen
Publishes photographs regularly in Ogoniok
Contributor: Roman Karmen
Ten Years of Soviet Photography at the State Academy of Artistic Sciences
Exhibition was also mounted in St. Petersburg
May 18–July 7, 1929
Internationale Ausstellung des Deutschen Werkbunds Film und Foto (FiFo) at Städtische Ausstellungshallen

Kunstgewerbemuseum, Zurich
August 28–September 22, 1929

Im Lichthof des Ehemaligen Kunstgewerbemuseums, Prinz-Albrechs-Strasse 7, Berlin
October 19–November 17, 1929

Stadtmuseum, Danzig
(dates unknown)

Österreichisches Museum, Vienna
February 20–March 31, 1930

Agram, Zagreb
April 5–14, 1930

Münchner Bund/Verein Ausstellungspark München E.V. (as part of Internationale Ausstellung. Das Lichtbild), Munich
June 5–September 7, 1930

Asahi Shimbun, Tokyo
April 1931

Asahi Shimbun, Osaka
July 1–7, 1931

Studies at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography
At location: Roman Karmen
El Lissitzky, Seymon Fridlyand, Aleksandr Rodchenko, and Roman Karmen contribute to the periodical USSR in Construction
Begins working at the Central Studio of Documentary Film
At location: Roman Karmen
Begins working as a correspondent for several Soviet newspapers, including Pravda and Izvestii
Contributor: Roman Karmen
Shoots Spain, a documentary about the Spanish Civil War
At location: Roman Karmen
Shoots documentary footage about the Soviet Republic in China
At location: Roman Karmen
Winter 1941
Shoots documentary footage during the Leningrad blockade
At location: Roman Karmen
Saint Petersburg
January 1943
Documents Generalfeldmarschall Friedrich Paulus's surrender at the Battle of Stalingrad
At location: Roman Karmen
July 1944
Shoots documentary footage of the liberation of Majdanek concentration camp
At location: Roman Karmen
November and December 1945
Shoots Judgment of the Peoples, a film about the Nuremberg trials
At location: Roman Karmen
Awarded the Lenin Prize, the Soviet Union's highest distinction, for his film Story of the Caspian Oil Workers
At location: Roman Karmen
April 28, 1978
At location: Roman Karmen

Walther Photographs

View this artist's works in MoMA's Online Collection

Related Essays

For best results, please enable JavaScript.