About the Artist

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  • Aenne Biermann. Self-Portrait with Silver Ball. 1931. Gelatin silver print. Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg

    A self-taught photographer, Aenne Biermann was born Anna Sibilla Sternfeld into a wealthy mercantile family in Goch, on the Lower Rhine, where she received an education in culture and music. In 1920 she married Herbert Joseph Biermann, a prosperous textile merchant and art lover whose family was a founding member of the Jewish community in Goch; following their wedding, they moved to the progressive town of Gera. The couple soon had two children, Helga (born 1921) and Gershon (born 1923), who were the photographer’s first subjects. An avid amateur mineralogist, it was through her collection of rocks that in 1926 she met the geologist Rudolf Hundt, who commissioned her to photograph his specimens the following year for his scientific work. Her photographs of minerals transformed her practice from the early personal views of her children to the close-up, direct studies of form that would define her photographs of plants and people that followed and make her a central figure in New Objectivity photography. Thus 1926 began a period of intense productivity for Biermann that lasted until her untimely death, from liver disease, at the age of thirty-five, in 1933. In those years, Biermann published in international photography journals and participated in numerous exhibitions, including a solo show in 1929 at the Kunstkabinett, Munich, as well as the influential exhibitions Fotografie der Gegenwart in Essen and Film und Foto in Stuttgart, the same year. This exposure led to art historian Franz Roh’s choice to feature her work in the monograph 60 Fotos: Aenne Biermann (1930), the second (and, ultimately, final) volume in his Fototek series, securing her place in the photographic discourse of the era.

    —Mitra Abbaspour

  • Alternate Name(s) Anna Sibilla Sternefeld (Birth Name)

Meeting Points

Artist Chronology

March 3, 1898
At location: Aenne Biermann
Mid 1920–1933
Lives in Gera
At location: Aenne Biermann
Makes her first photographs of her daughter
At location: Aenne Biermann
Works on commission for geologist Rudolf Hundt; photographs plants and portraits
At location: Aenne Biermann
Franz Roh publishes an article about Aenne Biermann's work in Das Kunstblatt
Affiliated: Aenne Biermann
Contributor: Franz Roh
Member of the Deutsche Werkbund
At location: Aenne Biermann
January 20–February 17, 1929
Fotografie der Gegenwart at Museum Folkwang

Kestner Gesellschaft v.V, Königstrasse 8, Hannover
March 10–April 7, 1929

Galerie Neumann-Nierendorf, Lützowstrasse 32, Berlin
April 20–May 20, 1929

Whitechapel Art Gallery, London
June 6–29, 1929

Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt
July 7–August 8, 1929

Leipziger Kunstverein, Augustusplatz 6, Leipzig
August 18–September 8, 1929

Lichthof des Neuen Rathauses, Dresden
September 15–October 6, 1929

Kunstverein, Rostock
October 20-November 10, 1929

am Adolf-Mittag-See, Städtisches Ausstellungsamt, Magdeburg
November 28–December 19, 1929

Landesgewerbeanstalt, Kaiserslautern
February 23–March 23, 1930

Vereinigung Göttinger Kunstfreunde, Göttingen
May 18–June 8, 1930

April 20–May 20, 1929
Neue Typografie at Staatliche Künstlerbibliothek
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

Franz Roh publishes 60 Fotografien, a monograph on Aenne Biermann, as part of the Fototek series
Affiliated: Aenne Biermann
Contributor: Franz Roh
June–September 1930
Das Lichtbild exhibition
January 11–February 9, 1931
Die Neue Fotografie at the Kunstgewerbemuseum
Member of the Gesellschaft Deutscher Lichtbildner
At location: Aenne Biermann
July 2–31, 1932
Exposition internationale de la photographie at the Palais des Beaux-Arts
Organizer: Cami Stone
January 14, 1933
At location: Aenne Biermann

Walther Photographs

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

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