The Warburg Institute and Architectural Photography (1)

My post about the exhibition on Women Refugee Photographers at the Four Corners Gallery has apparently encouraged several people to look the exhibition up online. It has also prompted me, rather belatedly, to find out a bit more about the exhibitions apparently organised by the Warburg Institute during the war and Heidi Heimann’s role in taking photographs for them.

The best known was the one on ‘English Art and the Mediterranean’ which was, I think, shown at the National Gallery and round the country before appearing in published form in 1948. Two photographers are thanked in the printed volume. One is Otto Fein, who was on the staff of the Warburg and was involved with Walter Gernsheim in photographing drawings and manuscripts. The other is Walter’s brother, Helmut (Mr. H. Gernsheim), who had trained at the Bavarian State School of Photography, came to London in 1937, and worked freelance before being interned in Australia and returning to work for the National Buildings Record. No mention of Adelheid Heimann.

What I didn’t know is that this was just one in a much wider programme of travelling exhibitions, including one on Greek and Roman Art which opened in January 1939 at the Warburg and then travelled to the Courtauld, Tonbridge School and Eton. In 1940, there was an exhibition on Indian Art which travelled round the country and, in 1943, an exhibition on ‘Portrait and Character’. Not only Gernsheim, but both Wittkower and Otto Fein were involved in working for the National Buildings Record documenting major London buildings, including 10, Downing Street, Westminster Abbey, and Chiswick House. But little mention that I can find of Heidi Heimann until she joined the staff of the Photographic Collection part-time in 1955, storing her shoes in the cupboard reserved for uncatalogued photographs.


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